FM Aurescu: Romanian consul in Afghanistan saved from Taliban bullets

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The Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, told an interview to G4Media how the evacuation of the 156 Afghan collaborators took place.

He talked about “scenes of incredible drama” and gave the example of the Romanian consul at the airport, who was rescued by a bulletproof vest from Taliban gunfire, and a group that missed the entrance to Kabul airport, although it was at just a few meters away from one of the gates.

I witnessed directly, during the repatriation operations, scenes of incredible drama, on both sides of the thread that connected colleagues from the crisis cell in Bucharest to those on the ground and especially to those who had to to save them“, said FM Aurescu.

He recounted an episode that took place on August 20, when Romanian teams tried to bring a group of 20 people to the airport, Afghan collaborators and their families, including children.

“I stayed with them for more than 3 hours, guiding them through Kabul and around the airport, to bring them safely to one of the gates where the Romanian team was waiting for them at the airport. It was extremely complicated: huge crowds of Afghans trying to enter the airport, Taliban checkpoints controlled by various factions, a security situation that could endanger their health and life at any time. I brought them to one of the gates I knew about, but the situation suddenly changed and that gate could no longer be used “, Aurescu recounted.

“We had to guide them a few kilometers to another gate. It was a race against the clock, on the one hand for those at the airport, on the other for Afghans outside, whom we guided from the crisis cell room. Our consul waited for them at the second, smaller gate, waving the tricolor vest of the crisis cell as a sign of recognition. Meanwhile, the group shrank. An Afghan female journalist in the group fainted from exhaustion and her fellow journalists gave up – to take her to the hospital. The others barely reached the second gate. It was getting dark, the vest was no longer visible, the consul used a green flashlight.

Suddenly serious shooting started. A stray bullet, fired into the air, hit the consul, but nothing happened, he was not injured because he had protective equipment. And he bravely continued to wave that green flashlight, though it was clear that in the dark he was at increased risk. I admired and respected his courage and selflessness. He called the de facto leader of the group be his name, through whom we coordinated their movements, to guide the group to the gate. I could hear him shouting, including through the phone of the Afghan I was in contact with, they were close to the gate,” the Foreign minister said.

The group was eventually evacuated from Afghanistan, and people arrived in Pakistan on Friday and are safe.

Overall, the Romanian authorities evacuated 49 Romanians from Afghanistan, all those who wanted to leave the country, 156 Afghans and 7 citizens of other countries.

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