Female Irish aid worker promises to stay in Afghanistan to help locals despite Taliban threat

Female Irish aid worker promises to stay in Afghanistan to help locals despite Taliban threat

AN IRISH aid worker has vowed to stay in Afghanistan and continue her humanitarian work despite the looming presence of the Taliban.

Mary-Ellen McGroarty, who is one of over 30 Irish nationals living in Afghanistan, insists that she isn't an any immediate danger, and that she needs to stay and help in order to prevent a "humanitarian catastrophe" developing.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio earlier this week, the UN and World Food Programme worker said she and her colleagues were "very conscious of the rising needs here and the need to be in Afghanistan to deal with the evolving situation, including mounting hunger and shelter requirements.

"I've been in some hairy situations in the past 24 hour but I feel safe now," she said.

The Taliban arrived in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday and immediately took control following the collapse of the local government.

Ms McGroarty says the Taliban declared that a curfew would be put in place, as thousands scrambled to the city's airport in an attempt to escape.

"We were told a curfew was happened between 8 and 9 and we all mobilised to [travel] as close as we could to a secure compound near the airport," she said.

"We passed four checkpoints on our way and there were a mix of Taliban and police working together, which caused confusion because they didn't really know their roles. They didn't stop us."

Mary-Ellen revealed that initially, the city was quite calm, even as people flocked to the airport, but as night fell the atmosphere changed.

"There was no panic, there wasn't anger. Instead of there being chaos there was calm.

"People even physically lifted a car that had been abandoned in front of us so we could get to where we were going in safety.

"Within 12 hours, however, the crowd wasn't so calm. When we left there last night the city had changed."

Ireland has successfully evacuated three nationals from Afghanistan, and are working to secure safety for the 30 or so other people looking to get out.

It's understood that as many as eight children are among those Irish national looking to escape the Taliban.