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Another 750 people rescued from Kabul on Australian flights as evacuation race continues

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Hundreds more people have been evacuated on Australian flights from Kabul as evacuations ramp up ahead of the looming deadline for the United States’ military withdrawal. 

Australians, Afghans with visas and others from allied nations were among the 750 people extracted in the latest rescue efforts. 

The most recent flights take the total number of people rescued as part of Australia’s mission to 2,400.   

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Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Australian authorities were working to secure evacuations as rapidly as possible.

“We are doing everything we can to get as many people out as quickly as we can and we will stay there as long as we can,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

The Taliban’s ascension to power has resulted in tens of thousands of people seeking to flee from Afghanistan’s capital over fears for their safety.

US President Joe Biden is holding firm on his intention to pull out of Afghanistan by 31 August, saying on Wednesday morning AEST US forces are racing to meet the deadline for evacuations, but things are on track. 

The US has evacuated 70,700 people since 14 August – the day before the Taliban took power – including 6,400 overnight. 

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‘Monumental stuff up’

It comes as lawyers for guards who protected Australia’s diplomats at its embassy in Kabul say some continue to face difficulties leaving.

Dozens of embassy guards were turned away by Australian officials on Tuesday at the airport, after being told they would be rescued.

Kay Danes, part of a team of advocates trying to coordinate their rescue, described the incident as a “monumental stuff up”.

“The Defence people on that perimeter told them you don’t have the stamp in your passport you can’t come in,” she told SBS News on Tuesday.

Cameras captured images of the former guards being forced to wade through human waste in sewage water outside the airport with identity documents in hand.     

Ms Andrews said Australian officials were doing the best they could to enable access to the airport.

“We need to see this in the context of the fact that it is a war zone. There are multiple Taliban checkpoints on the way through to the airport,” she said.  

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“Our officials are doing everything that is humanly possible to get as many people through those gates.”

A migration lawyer and former army officer has also warned those seeking refuge remain in danger if electronic documents continue to be knocked back. 

Glenn Kolomeitz, who served in Afghanistan, represents dozens of Afghans entitled to protection in Australia. 

He said people on the ground continued to face a perilous journey trying to reach the airport.

“Getting turned away at that critical juncture is just heartbreaking,” the former officer told the ABC. “One of our families got to one of the gates and they were fired at by Taliban.” 

Australia has offered an initial 3,000 visa places to Afghan nationals in response to the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan. 

Ms Andrews repeated Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comment that the figure, which is below humanitarian comitments made by other countries, remained a “floor” and not a “ceiling”.

A third flight of evacuees also landed in Adelaide overnight, taking the total brought from the Al Minhad Air Base near Dubai to 419. 

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