US Embassy destroyed Afghan passports before officials fled Kabul

Civilian travel out of Afghanistan remains largely shut down

A brief history of the UK’s involvement in Afghanistan
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In their rush to flee Kabul ahead of the impending Taliban takeover, US Embassy personnel destroyed documents including passports belonging to Afghans trying to escape the.

"Visa and passport appointments at the Embassy have been canceled, and passports that were in the Embassy’s possession have been destroyed. Currently, it is not possible to provide any further visa services in Afghanistan," congressman Andy Kim, a Democrat from New Jersey, told constituents in an email.

"The Department of State advises all people waiting for processing to find shelter and wait for further instructions. They should not go to the airport until they are called to do so and should follow the instructions carefully."

The State Department confirmed that this had taken place, telling ABC that destroying documents was “standard operating procedure” during this sort of critical situation and "will not prevent people who are otherwise eligible for evacuation from traveling."

Passport offices around the country have been slammed with lines for weeks as Afghans try to leave before the Taliban begins fully ruling the country.

“The consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul has closed due to the rapidly changing security situation,” the State Department wrote in an update on Monday. “Nonimmigrant visa appointments remain unavailable and all immigrant visa appointments, including Special Immigrant Visas, at the Embassy have been cancelled.”

Some countries, like the UK, have authorised allowing potential Afghan asylum seekers into Britain without a passport, using alternative means to identify them.

Tom Malinowski, another New Jersey Democrat, recommended a similar course for US officials trying to identify Afghans leaving the country.

"In many cases we know their contact information and phone numbers and that is how we will have to identify them,” Mr Malinowski told CNN. “Any Afghans braving the trip to the airport will not have wanted to go there with identifying documents, anyway."

Even those with proper documentation face a tough road getting out of the country. People have mobbed Kabul’s main airport for days, swarming the runway, with multiple people being run over by taxiing airplanes and others by US security forces.

The Taliban has agreed not to interfere with US evacuations, and the White House has promised to bring down the “full weight and force of the United States military” if they go back on their word.

But on the ground, reports suggest that the group is already overseeing a chaotic process where numerous families aren’t able to make it through to the airport, where nearly all civilian air travel has been canceled and diplomatic airlifts were temporarily put on hold for the lucky few who have visas or a connection to a foreign government.

"I’ve covered all sorts of crazy situations,” CNN’s Clarissa Ward, on the ground in Kabul, said of the scene at the airport. “This was mayhem. This was nuts. This was impossible for an ordinary civilian, even if they had their paperwork...There’s no coherent system for processing people.”

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