Italy’s last evacuation flight from Kabul will leave Afghanistan in the “next few hours”, with a top NATO envoy on board, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Friday.
He said all the Italian nationals who wanted to leave had been evacuated, along with around 4,900 Afghan civilians.
The last diplomats and military — of whom Italy sent 1,500 to help with the airlift — are due to take the last flight.
“In the next few hours the last C-130 will leave Kabul airport,” Di Maio told a press conference in Rome with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
On board will be Italian consul Tommaso Claudi as well as Stefano Pontecorvo, the Italian diplomat serving as NATO’s senior civil representative to Afghanistan.
“Leaving Kabul with a heavy heart. My gratitude to all #NATO allies & partners for a massive evacuation effort from #Afghanistan despite all challenges,” Pontecorvo tweeted.
Leaving Kabul with a heavy heart. My gratitude to all #NATO Allies & Partners for a massive evacuation effort from #Afghanistan despite all challenges. NATO played a key role in getting thousands out and is committed to getting others to safety. 🙏 to #Italy 🇮🇹 for flying us out. pic.twitter.com/NcWH3z20hE
— Stefano Pontecorvo (@pontecorvoste) August 27, 2021
“NATO played a key role in getting thousands out and is committed to getting others to safety.”
Afghans and foreign nationals have been racing to leave Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control.
The huge crowds waiting to be evacuated were the target of twin suicide bombs outside Kabul airport on Thursday that killed at least 85 people, including 13 US troops.
During his visit to Rome Friday, Lavrov also met with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
They discussed the importance of ensuring stability and security in Afghanistan, tackling the humanitarian emergency and ensuring respect for human rights, particularly those of women, Draghi’s office said.