Pregnant and injured evacuees among 8,500 Afghans housed in UAE

Some have given birth, others have been treated for broken bones

Passengers show the victory sign at Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai after arriving from Afghanistan. Pawan Singh / The National.
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The UAE is hosting 8,500 Afghans as part of a huge effort to support the international evacuation operation in Afghanistan.

The figure was revealed at a high-level briefing in Abu Dhabi on Thursday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation.

The evacuees are being cared for at Emirates Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi. It is believed that about 30 per cent are children, 30 per cent men and 40 per cent are women.

High-quality housing, sanitation, food and healthcare are being provided by teams from multiple UAE entities.

Some women have given birth, while many people need medical treatment. Others have been treated for broken limbs at hospitals, while others have tested positive for Covid-19 and are receiving expert care.

“We had some cases where we had to hospitalise them,” said an official.

The 8,500 are being hosted here temporarily and will travel to other countries, chiefly the United States, with the first flight expected tonight.

The UAE has become a crucial logistical hub for global evacuation efforts in Afghanistan over the past few weeks.

The briefing heard how in addition to the 8,500 Afghans, the UAE has also helped with the evacuation of more than 36,500 people since the crisis erupted in early August.

The evacuation efforts are not just the responsibility of one country, said the official. But the UAE will consider any request.

Security conditions on the ground remain a concern, the official said.

Authorities said the UAE started the operation at the start of the month but started in earnest on August 21.

Abu Dhabi expects the operation to conclude by August 31, which is also the deadline set by US President Joe Biden for the airlift to end.

Working with the US, the UAE has established a transit hub and processing centre in Abu Dhabi from which travelers from Afghanistan undergo health and security screenings before continuing to the US or a third country, the ministry said on Thursday.

Under the coordination of the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, the UAE is working with the US Embassy team, including consular and customs and border officers, to process travellers around the clock.

“It is an honour for the UAE to work side-by-side with its partners in the international community to achieve all that serves the interests of the Afghan people, as well as foreign nationals being evacuated from Afghanistan on humanitarian grounds," said Salem al Zaabi, director of the International Security Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

"We will continue to work tirelessly in this regard to ensure that all can live in safety, security, and dignity."

Countries are scrambling to complete the evacuation of thousands of foreigners and Afghans after the Taliban's take-over of the country.

Afghanistan evacuation - in pictures

Updated: August 26, 2021, 6:03 PM