Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Thursday that Canadian Armed Forces assets and personnel are in Afghanistan to coordinate safe evacuations with the US and other allies, though the number of safe returns may not initially be as many as anticipated. He said that two CAF C-17s would make regular flights to Kabul to get Canadians, Afghans and their families to safety.
"Canadian Armed Forces flights to and from Hamid Karzai International Airport will resume shortly under Op AEGIS," wrote Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan over Twitter Thursday morning. "Two CC-177 Globemasters have been assigned to evacuation efforts and will be flying regularly into Kabul."
On Sunday, Trudeau committed to resettling 20,000 Afghans through the ongoing Special Immigration Measures (SIMs) program. "Our ongoing work to bring Afghans to safety in Canada under SIMs remains a top priority, and we will continue to work in close collaboration with partners in Afghanistan and allies on this commitment," he said.
"Canada has personnel on the ground now, and we'll have more personnel arriving later today to help with the processing," said Trudeau. He said the Taliban’s efforts to limit the movements of fleeing Afghans could produce dire consequences.
"We are going to be there with aircraft, with spaces on aircraft, to bring people to safety. But unless the Taliban shift their posture significantly, which is something the international community and Canada are working on, it is going to be very difficult to get many people out."
Despite the setback, he committed to getting some certainty, but added that getting "as many [people] as we'd want" out of Afghanistan "is going to be almost impossible in the coming weeks."
Trudeau met virtually Wednesday with members of the Afghan Canadian community, alongside Sajjan, Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef and Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
He told the community that his government would do whatever it takes to support evacuations. "I can assure you that I and our ministers and our government [are] working extremely hard to ease all the barriers," said Trudeau, who added they understand the fears, anxieties and concerns of Afghan Canadians.
Canadians of Afghani expressed deep skepticism of the Taliban’s intentions as thousands tried to flee the country.
Under Taliban rule in the 1990s, television and music were forbidden. Women were barred from attending school or working outside the home, and they had to wear a burqa in public and be escorted by a male guardian from the same household.
They added that they seek an "inclusive, Islamic" government, more moderate than when they last held power. They also vowed to respect women's rights, forgive those who fought them and ensure Afghanistan did not become a haven for terrorists.
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