Afghanistan Live Updates: G7 to Hold Emergency Meeting As Biden Pushed Over Kabul Airport Deadline

Live Updates

The G7 held an emergency meeting today over the collapse of the Western-backed Afghan government and the takeover of the Taliban.

Tensions are running high over the August 31 deadline to evacuate refugees and nationals of G7 countries from the facility. Despite concerns from leaders to extend the deadline, President Joe Biden told his allies that "we are on pace to finish" the mission in Kabul by August 31.

During a press briefing Tuesday, the Pentagon reiterated the U.S.'s commitment to the August 31 withdrawal mark after the Taliban said it would not extend the deadline.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the scene at the Kabul airport is less chaotic than it was during the first few days of evacuation operations as processing becomes more efficient and crowds around the airport are reduced.

Over 21,000 people were airlifted out of Afghanistan over the last 24 hours and approximately 4,000 Americans have been evacuated from Kabul since operations began.

The Taliban said during its press conference Tuesday that it will no longer allow Afghans to leave the country after the August 31 deadline.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

KEY MOMENTS

Refugees from Afghanistan Arrive in Spain
Afghan people, who were evacuated from Kabul, queue after disembarking from a plane at Torrejon Military Air Base on August 24, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. Madrid has so far evacuated just over 700 people from Afghanistan, with three planes scheduled to arrive today. Spain has been evacuating its nationals and local contractors from Afghanistan through the Dubai airbridge since the Taliban swept to power ten days ago. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

4,000 Americans evacuated from Afghanistan, Pentagon confirms

The Pentagon said that approximately 4,000 American passport holders and their families have been evacuated from Afghanistan.

"We expect that number to continue to grow in the coming days," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Biden says we are "on pace" to end operations in Kabul by the end of the month

During today's summit, President Joe Biden told his fellow G7 leaders that the U.S. is "currently on pace" to finish the evacuation mission in Kabul by August 31, the White House said in a statement.

Biden also "asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timeline should that become necessary."

European leaders raised concerns about the August 31 deadline during G7 summit

Several G7 leaders raised concerns with U.S. President Joe Biden about the August 31 deadline to evacuate nationals and Afghan staff from Kabul.

European Council President Charles Michel said that "several leaders expressed concerns about the timing of August 31," during the G-7 summit Tuesday.

Biden said he plans to stick to that deadline, but European Union leaders were concerned about the ability of their people to reach the Kabul airport.

Michel says the EU "raised this issue with our American friends and partners," specifically "the need to secure the airport, as long as necessary, to complete the operations; and second, a fair and equitable access to the airport, for all nationals entitled to evacuation."

Putin criticized U.S. handling of Afghanistan withdrawal

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the United States and its allies for its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

During his address to the main meeting of his party, United Russia, Putin noted that militants could take advantage of the chaos in Afghanistan to destabilize bordering nations in Central Asia.

"There is a danger that terrorists and different groups that found a refuge in Afghanistan will use the chaos left by our Western colleagues and try to launch an expansion into neighboring countries," Putin said. "That will pose a direct threat to our country and its allies."

Boris Johnson will insist on "safe passage" out of Afghanistan beyond August 31

Following the G7 meeting with fellow world leaders, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is insisting on safe passage out of Afghanistan after August 31.

"The number one condition that we're insisting on is safe passage beyond the 31st, so beyond the initial phase for those who want to leave Afghanistan," Johnson said.

U.S. President Joe Biden said during the meeting that he will not extend the August 31 evacuation deadline.

Biden told G7 leaders he will maintain the August 31 evacuation deadline

The White House shared an image of President Joe Biden meeting with G7 leaders Tueday.

Biden discussed "a continuation of our close coordination on Afghanistan policy, humanitarian assistance, and evacuating our citizens, the brave Afghans who stood with us over the last two decades, and other vulnerable Afghans," the White House said in a tweet.

According to CNN, Biden told G7 leaders he is sticking with the August 31 deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Today, President Biden met virtually with G7 leaders to discuss a continuation of our close coordination on Afghanistan policy, humanitarian assistance, and evacuating our citizens, the brave Afghans who stood with us over the last two decades, and other vulnerable Afghans. pic.twitter.com/zFxjsm2W8H

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 24, 2021

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said there were "important discussions" on Afghanistan among the G7 leaders.

"NATO is coordinating to ensure effective evacuation," he said in a tweet. "Together we must also ensure that terrorist groups cannot again operate freely from Afghanistan."

Important discussions on #Afghanistan with @G7 leaders. #NATO is coordinating to ensure effective evacuation. Together we must also ensure that terrorist groups cannot again operate freely from Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/98q6G4qwHB

— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) August 24, 2021

Taliban says it temporarily requested women stay home from work for their own safety

The Taliban said it told women to stay home from work for their own safety.

"Sometimes our security teams are not well trained enough in dealing with women. So they do encounter problems sometimes for that reason," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said during a press briefing Tuesday.

He said women will not be permanently prevented from going to work

"So we've requested that women remain in their homes, until we develop a procedure. They won't be terminated [from their jobs]. They will continue receiving their salaries, even if they're not showing up to work."

Leaked email details squalid conditions at base in Qatar housing Afghan refugees

A leaked email from the U.S. Central Command describes "dire conditions" at the airbase in Doha, Qatar where the U.S. is housing thousands of Afghan refugees, Axios reported.

The email was sent last Friday by supervisory special agent Colin Sullivan, a State Department official who serves as a liaison to the Central Command, and went to officials at both the State Department and Pentagon. The message was read aloud to Axios by a U.S. government official who chose to remain anonymous for security purposes.

In the email, Sullivan described "a life-threatening humanitarian disaster" and included excerpts from Doha Embassy staff that described the conditions for refugees as "a living hell" and "nightmare."

"A humid day today. Where the Afghans are housed is a living hell. Trash, urine, fecal matter, spilled liquids and vomit cover the floors," wrote one excerpt, according to Axios.

READ MORE: "Squalid, Unsanitary Conditions Reported at U.S. Afghan Refugee Base: 'A Living Nightmare'"

Pentagon says the situation at the Kabul airport is less chaotic

Pentagon Press Secretary credits more "order and structure" at the Kabul airport for the increase in people airlifted out of Afghanistan.

Kirby said the "crush" of the first few days of evacuation has been reduced.

"The situation is not as chaotic as it was in the first few days," he said.

Kirby said the "flow" and processing have improved as the crowds around the airports have been reduced.

"We are not seeing the same pressure now being put on the system as there was in the earlier days," Kirby said.

Pentagon has no plan to extend the August 31 evacuation deadline in Kabul

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said there "has been no change to the mission timeline" of evacuating troops from Afghanistan by the end of the month.

During the press briefing Tuesday, he added that it will take "several days" to draw down U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

Kirby said there is "not much difference" between what the Taliban said publically and what they said privately about the August 31 deadline.

Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor said that 21,600 individuals have been evacuated from Kabul in the past 24 hours.

"We're seeing increased pace in the flight schedule from Kabul," Taylor said.

The Pentagon would not give the specific number of Americans who have been airlifted out of Afghanistan, but Kirby said the figure was around "several thousand."

Taliban said Afghans will no longer be able to leave the country

During a press conference Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban will no longer allow Afghan nationals to go to Kabul airport and leave the country.

Mujahid told the crowds at the airport to go home and said that their security would be guaranteed.

He said the United States should evacuating skilled Afghans.

"We ask the Americans," he said. "Don't encourage Afghans to leave...We need their talent."

Taliban will not extend evacuation deadline

The Taliban will not extend the United States' August 31 evacuation deadline in Kabul.

During a press conference Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the U.S. has enough time and resources to get foreign nationals out. He added that the Taliban is "not in favor of allowing Afghans to leave.

Players from Afghanistan women's national soccer team evacuated from Kabul

Players for the Afghanistan women's national soccer team were evacuated from Kabul by the Australian government.

"These young women, both as athletes and activists, have been in a position of danger and on behalf of their peers around the world we thank the international community for coming to their aid," the global soccer players' union FIFPRO said in a statement.

Khalida Popal, the team's former captain, called the evacuation "an important victory" but said there is still more work to be done.

"The last few days have been extremely stressful but today we have achieved an important victory," she said in a statement. "The women footballers have been brave and strong in a moment of crisis and we hope they will have a better life outside Afghanistan. But there is still much more work to do. Women's football is a family and we must make sure everyone is safe."

🇦🇫 In the middle of this humanitarian crisis I am so grateful to everybody on this unique team that helped to get the players evacuated. 2 weeks full of genuine care, masterminding and incredible perseverance. We won’t stop here! W/o representation these people can’t be saved! https://t.co/2a8tNA1o58

— Jonas Baer-Hoffmann (@BaerHoffmann) August 24, 2021

Airbnb will house Afghan refugees for free

Airbnb offered to house 20,000 Afghan refugees around the world for free.

"The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the U.S. and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. We feel a responsibility to step up," CEO Brian Chesky said on Twitter.

The displacement and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US and elsewhere is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. We feel a responsibility to step up.

— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) August 24, 2021

"I hope this inspires other business leaders to do the same. There's no time to waste."

Chesky thanked the generosity of hosts and non-governmental organizations on the ground who are supporting this pledge.

The company said the cost of these stays would be funded through contributions from Airbnb and Chesky himself, as well as donors to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund, according to the BBC.

UN Human Rights Council received "harrowing and credible" reports of human rights abuses under Taliban rule

The United Nations Human Rights Council held a special session Tuesday to discuss human rights concerns in Afghanistan.

UNHRC Chief Michelle Bachelet said her office received "harrowing and credible" reports of human rights violations in areas under Talian control, including executions, restrictions on freedoms for women and girls, recruitment of child soldiers and repression of peaceful protests.

Her office is concerned for people who worked with Afghan or international governments, journalists, minorities, women, human rights advocates "or those whose lifestyles and opinions are simply perceived to be opposed to the Taliban ideology."

"International human rights law is immutable," Bachelet said. "Enjoyment of human rights is not subject to changes in control of territory or de facto authority.

Bachelet said that Afghanistan has come a long way in the advancement of personal freedoms and now "the onus is now fully on the Taliban to translate its [promises to protect human rights] into reality."

"For the development and prosperity of any country to be sustainable, people need to live without fear, without discrimination, without repression and with full respect of their human rights," she said.

Bachelet called on nations to hold the Taliban accountable for upholding freedoms and said "a fundamental red line" will be the Taliban's treatment of women and girls, in particular, their access to employment, education and freedom.

"United and unequivocal action by Member States will be an important signal to the Taliban that a return to past practices will not find acceptance in the international community – neither now, nor in the future," she added. "The Afghan people have come too far for such an outcome to ever be tolerable."

Over 21,000 people evacuated by U.S. flights yesterday

Around 21,600 people have been evacuated in the past 24 hours, the White House has confirmed.

The figure includes around 12,700 people at Kabul's airport - on 37 U.S. military flights - and another 8,900 people evacuated on 57 coalition flights. according to the White House.

It is the highest daily number so far - and more than double yesterday's total.

CIA director met with Taliban leader yesterday - reports

The CIA's William J. Burns met with Abdul Ghani Baradar - considered the de-facto Taliban leader - in Kabul yesterday, reports the Washington Post.

If the story is accurate, this would signal a willingness by the U.S. to positively engage with the militant group in private. It is not yet known what was discussed.

EU sends mixed messages to civilians at Kabul airport

The EU is sending conflicting messages to civilians about whether or not to use Kabul's airport to escape the Taliban.

Yesterday German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said "we do not recommend going" to the facility, which has been the site of chaotic evacuation flights. But this morning Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told people stuck in Kabul: "At the moment we say you have to come to the airport."

Some countries, now including Germany, are recommending against travelling to the airport due to safety concerns, citing videos which show Taliban and U.S. soliders firing warning shots in dangerously overcrowded areas nearby.

Taliban to hold press conference ahead of G7 meeting

Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesperson for the so-called 'Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan' announced by the militant group last week, has invited journalists to the collapsed government's Media Center in Kabul at 5pm (8.30am ET).

U.S. demands 'proof of life' from Taliban in prisoner swap

The Biden administration is demand "proof of life" from the Taliban before releasing a top Afghan tribal leader, who has been sitting in a U.S. federal prison for 16 years, in exchange for the last American hostage abducted last year.

Mark Frerichs, a U.S. contractor, was abducted in late January 2020 by elements believed to be tied to the Haqqani network - a Taliban-aligned militia operating across the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Newsweek was the first to report on his kidnapping days later and has made contact with his family and former U.S. officials regarding his case.

READ MORE: Biden Ready to Make Deal with Taliban for Last U.S. Hostage, But Needs Proof of Life

China: Imposing sanctions on Taliban would be 'counterproductive'

Beijing made the comments after expressing interest in building relations with the militant group, which is set to form a new government in Afghanistan.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters:

The international community should encourage and promote the development of the situation in Afghanistan in a positive direction, support peaceful reconstruction, improve the wellbeing of the people and enhance its capacity for independent development. Imposing sanctions and pressure at every turn cannot solve the problem and will only be counterproductive.

Boris Johnson to 'ask friends and allies to stand by the Afghan people'

The British Prime Minister sets out his aim for the emergency G7 meeting on Afghanistan later today.

Today I will hold an emergency @G7 meeting to coordinate our response to the crisis in Afghanistan.

I will ask our friends and allies to stand by the Afghan people and step up support for refugees and humanitarian aid.

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 24, 2021

Britain 'not going to get everybody out of the country'

The British government has admitted it will not be able to evacuate everybody who is eligible for assistance before the U.S. pulls out of the country - and Kabul's airport - once and for all.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, in an interview with Sky News, conceded it was "unlikely" President Biden would changed his mind on the August 31 deadline - but the country hopes to join G7 allies to persuade the White House to change its mind.

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

The G7 - called by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson - will go ahead remotely later today.

The meeting is set to dissect the collapse of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. and N.A.T.O. troops but also the looming deadline, set by the Taliban and so-far backed by the President Biden, to evaucuate civilians from Kabul's airport.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Tuesday for all the latest.