MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia is working to get more than 130 of its citizens and people who have been granted humanitarian visas out of Afghanistan after the Islamist Taliban seized control of the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.
Australia was one of several countries which recently pulled troops out of Afghanistan after supporting U.S. action there against the Taliban over the past two decades following the al Qaeda attacks on the United States.
“As a partner committed for many years to helping Afghanistan build its future, we are deeply concerned at the potential for further loss of life and suffering,” Morrison said in a statement.
He called for the Taliban to cease all violence against civilians, treat Afghan government officials and elected leaders with dignity and allow people to leave the country “without threat or hindrance”.
“The Taliban will be held fully accountable for any killing or other mistreatment of Afghan military and other security forces who have surrendered or been captured,” Morrison said in a joint statement with Australia’s defence and foreign ministers.
Australia’s defence department said it would be sending more than 250 personnel to support efforts to evacuate Australians and visa holders from Afghanistan.
“The situation in Afghanistan remains highly volatile and dangerous,” the Defence department said in a statement.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Giles Elgood)