Ukrainian soldiers stationed at Kabul airport have carried out a daring special operation to rescue Afghan translators who served the Canadian military.
According to Canada’s media outlet The Globe and Mail, the operation took place last Friday morning, one day after the last Canadian evacuation plane left Afghanistan, and hours after the terrorist attack at one of the gates to Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The Canadian authorities promised to resettle vulnerable Afghans provided they can make their way to third countries. The Canadian government asked the Ukrainian government whether it would be willing to transport other Canada-bound refugees to Kyiv, where they would be processed before resettlement.
Despite the serious risks, Ukrainian troops went out into the city of Kabul on foot to escort two minibuses carrying the Canada-bound translators and their families – 19 people in all – onto the airfield.
Two previous efforts planned by the Canadian military failed, as well as another attempt organised by the United States. Those operations had relied on the Afghans and their families being able to reach designated meeting points near the airport gates, which proved impossible amid the chaos in Kabul.
“The Ukrainian operation succeeded where others had collapsed because the Ukrainian military deployed special forces troops into the city on foot to conduct the rescue. The evacuees said they were stunned that Ukrainian troops had taken risks to save them that Canadian and U.S. forces had not,” the article reads.
After making it into the airport, the 19 Afghans were put onto a military cargo aircraft and flown to Islamabad along with a group of other Afghans the Ukrainians had rescued previously. In the Pakistani capital, they were transferred onto a chartered commercial plane that carried the group to Ukraine.
“Everybody was surprised. I tried for the last month to have someone get us. We asked the Americans, the Canadians, the Qataris, everybody – and no solution. They were scared to come out. The Ukrainian soldiers were angels for us. They did an exceptional job. They have big hearts,” said Jawed Haqmal, a 33-year-old father of four who worked for two years with Canadian special forces in Kandahar.
As a reminder, Ukraine has evacuated a total of 700 people, both Ukrainians and foreigners, from Afghanistan since August 16. In particular, reporters of such international media outlets as the Globe and Mail, WSJ, USA Today, and Stars and Stripes were evacuated from Kabul.
In a tweet, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that 360 more Ukrainians and citizens of other countries had arrived in Kyiv on August 28.
“Our military, intelligence and diplomats have done a brilliant job. Ukraine does not leave its citizens in trouble in difficult times and helps others,” the head of state said.
According to the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, our country is among the leading EU countries in terms of the number of evacuated citizens from Afghanistan. In addition, the ministry stressed that this result demonstrates Ukraine’s reliability as a partner to the international community.