A SWISS charter flight to Tashkent announced for Saturday 21 August had to be postponed at short notice because of the precarious situation around Kabul airport, but the 300-seat aircraft was able to depart this morning from Zurich bound for the Uzbek capital. It will return to Switzerland with people on board who have been evacuated from Kabul. After the international partners severely restricted their evacuation flights on Saturday owing to the tense security situation in Kabul, on Sunday flights could be resumed, flying more people out of Kabul to Tashkent. To free up space in Tashkent for new military aircraft from Kabul, people must be able to fly on to Europe without delay. With the SWISS charter flight, Switzerland is making a concrete contribution to the international community's evacuation efforts.
Swiss nationals and SDC local staff flown out of Kabul
For the first time, local staff of the Swiss cooperation office and their families were able to make it inside Kabul airport on Sunday. These 70 or so people have already been airlifted to Tashkent by the German Bundeswehr and are now awaiting their onward flight to Switzerland. An additional 30 people with a Swiss connection have also been flown out so far. This means that as of today, Monday 23 August, a total of around 100 people have been airlifted from Afghanistan as part of Switzerland's evacuation efforts. Switzerland is working with the utmost urgency to ensure that more people can leave Kabul.
Relief supplies bound for Uzbekistan
The SWISS aircraft is also carrying personal protective equipment against COVID-19 to Tashkent, including 1.3 million face masks provided by the Swiss Armed Forces Pharmacy. The masks will be officially handed over to the Uzbek authorities on arrival. Eight members of the FDFA's Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) are also on board. Two doctors will accompany the evacuees on the flight back to Switzerland while the other six will remain in Tashkent to reinforce the team on the ground. The flight will also be accompanied by eight members of the Federal Office of Police (fedpol), who will be responsible for security on board.
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