Borrell laments Afghan 'catastrophe' as staff evacuated

Borrell laments Afghan 'catastrophe' as staff evacuated

The European Union's foreign policy chief branded developments in Afghanistan "a catastrophe" on Thursday and said there had been a failure of intelligence to anticipate the Taliban's rapid return to power.

Addressing the European Parliament, Josep Borrell said about 100 EU staff and 400 Afghans working with the EU and their families had been evacuated, but that 300 more Afghans were still trying to leave.

He stressed Europe's "moral duty" to rescue as many Afghans as possible who had worked for the EU in Afghanistan, but said it would not be possible to get them all out.

"Let me speak clearly and bluntly, this is a catastrophe," Borrell said. "It is a catastrophe for the Afghan people, for the Western values and credibility, and for the developing of international relations."

Western countries have been scrambling to airlift their citizens, Afghan staff and their families out since the Taliban took control of the capital Kabul on Sunday. Thousands of people have desperately tried to get past Taliban roadblocks and U.S. troops to reach Kabul airport, Reuters reported.

Borrell said he was in touch with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who will host a virtual crisis meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers on Friday to discuss Afghanistan.

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