Poland to give humanitarian visas to Afghans ‘who risked their lives for Poland’ as Kabul descends into chaos
Poland says it will issue humanitarian visas to Afghans who risked their lives to help Polish and European Union missions in the country, as Taliban forces swept into the capital Kabul on Sunday.
Amid scenes of mounting chaos and terror following the collapse of Afghanistan’s Western-backed government, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki took to social media to announce the immediate action after growing calls for help.
Posting on Twitter, the PM said: “We do not forget about allies, especially those in the greatest need.
“I have taken a decision to issue humanitarian visas for 45 people who cooperated with Poland, the EU delegation in Kabul and their family members.
“We keep our allied commitments.”
Poland’s Foreign Ministry said it was also looking to evacuate remaining Polish citizens from the country.
Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński said that the ministry was "in contact" with Polish citizens in Afghanistan, and that actions were being taken "together with our NATO and EU partners".
The ministry added that it was “appalled by the record numbers of civilian casualties as well as targeted killings due to the Taliban offensive”.
The move comes after US president Joe Biden announced that America would be pulling out of Afghanistan after 20 years.
In just over a week, the Taliban seized nearly all of the country despite the billions of dollars spent by the US and NATO over nearly two decades to build up the country’s security forces.
Thousands of Afghans fled to Kabul to try to escape the Taliban-controlled provinces while thousands of others rushed to the Pakistan border in a bid to escape Islamist rule.
On Sunday, Taliban fighters stormed the capital’s ancient palace and demanded a 'peaceful transfer of power' as Kabul descended into chaos.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Sunday that after police and government officials had fled the city, the Taliban had instructed its troops to enter the city to ensure security and counter the chaos.
He added that they were checking whether "President Ashraf Ghani has left Kabul or not" following reports that he had fled to Tajikistan.
On Sunday afternoon, a group of former Polish defence and foreign ministers, a former Polish ambassador to Kabul, and the founder of the Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) charity issued a joint appeal to the foreign ministry.
The group said: “Many [Polish] diplomats and soldiers owe their lives [to Afghan co-workers]… Now they need help.
“The Taliban have surrounded Kabul, and former collaborators of foreign contingents or diplomatic representations are being killed in the cities occupied so far.”
Although Poland has not had an embassy in Afghanistan since 2014, Polish troops were present in the country from 2002 until earlier this year as part of an international coalition following the US-led invasion of 2001.
In addition to combat duties, the Polish troops were involved in training Afghan security services and helping with infrastructure projects.
At the height of its operations, over 2,500 Polish troops were stationed in the country, with more than 30,000 Polish personnel serving in the country for nearly 20 years.
The last Polish troops left Afghanistan at the end of June this year as other international forces began evacuating the country.