Canada has only 24 to 48 hours to get planes in and out of Kabul as part of the Afghanistan evacuation effort, according to a government source.
The source — who has knowledge of the mission but wasn’t authorized to speak publicly — said only a limited number of flights remain for Canada’s military and they’re running against the clock.
With the Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan coming up fast, Canadian Forces have to start to wind down the evacuation, said the source.
Tens of thousands of Afghans fearing persecution under the Taliban, which swept to power in recent days, have rushed to Kabul’s airport hoping to escape the country.
Wendy Long, the founder of advocacy group Afghan-Canadian Interpreters, told CBC News the group is sending out notices to people today, telling them to get to the airport gates as soon as possible.
Just yesterday, following a virtual G7 meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will remain in Afghanistan beyond the Aug. 31 date to help evacuate more Canadians and eligible Afghans — if the security situation permits.
“I emphasized that Canada is ready to stay beyond the 31st deadline, if it’s at all possible, because we want to save as many people as possible and Canadians are ready to work to try and do that,” he said.
A PMO spokesperson later clarified that the prospect of Canadian Forces’ remaining in Kabul beyond the end of the month is contingent on the extension of the U.S. military presence, and that Canada would not remain in Afghanistan after the U.S. pulled out its troops.