Defence has released these candid images showing RAAF aviators evacuating Australian residents out of Afghanistan. It comes as it’s reported a further 470 have been rescued from Kabul airport overnight, taking the total number to around 1,000.
The RAAF has used the C-130J Hercules, KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and two C-17A Globemasters to lead the mission.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday described Kabul as being a “very chaotic environment” for resuces.
“We are uplifting not just Australians and Afghan visa holders for Australia, but those from the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand," he said.
“We continue to … get as many people through as we possibly can in the time we have available, as safely as we can."
“I can't guarantee the situation in Afghanistan. Australia is not in that situation.
“The United States are in a very different situation to Australia. We have to work in the environment as we know it and we have to do the best we possibly can.”
US President Joe Biden has also said discussions are ongoing as to whether to extend the August 31 deadline for getting all Americans, and Afghans who helped them, out of the country.
“We have a long way to go and a lot could still go wrong,” said Biden, who added the evacuation would be “hard and painful”.
Australia’s quickening pace of evacuation comes after the first Hercules evacuation flight departed with just 26 passengers on board last week.
Over 250 Defence personnel will aid in the evacuation effort, which is being co-ordinated with international partners.
PM Morrison on Sunday also played down Australia’s role in the chaotic scene in Australia, saying the country’s presence was “entirely conditional” on the US commitment.
“At the end of the day, ultimately a decision was taken, going back as far as the Obama administration, followed up by the Trump administration in February of last year when they were talking to the Taliban, and that has been followed through by the Biden administration,” he said.
“As a result Australia has to take its decisions based on the environment.
“But let me say this: For 20 years we have all worked hard to try, in the best of our efforts and endeavours, to make a failed state a functional state.”