FIFTEEN IRISH nationals are desperately attempting to escape Afghanistan following the government collapse and Taliban takeover.
There were horrific scenes in the capital of Kabul over the weekend and into Monday as the Taliban captured the city and claimed victory after a 20-year struggle, following the recent departure of US troops.
The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country before the capital was stormed by the Taliban, and the group have now taken over all government buildings including the presidential palace.
Thousands have attempted to flee the country, with chaotic scenes at Kabul airport showing people desperate for refuge attempting to board planes without visas or tickets, scaling walls to gain entry to the airport and some climbing on the planes themselves.
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US troops are present at the airport to protect citizens trying to escape from the Taliban, and there have been reports of shots fired, though unclear by whom, as chaos and panic is rife among the thousands trying to flee.
At least two people are believed to have been killed at the mayhem at the airport, BBC News reports.
Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, this morning appeared on Newstalk and RTÉ's Morning Ireland where he said there are a total of 23 Irish nationals in Afghanistan, some with dual citizenships.
Of those, fifteen people are desperately trying to flee the war-torn country before the Taliban come into power, Mr Coveney said.
Most had been booked on commercial flights from Kabul airport, but all flights into Afghanistan and many flying over Afghani airspace have been cancelled amid the crisis: the Irish government are now working with other EU countries, and the US, to evacuate the Irish nationals.
Mr Coveney also said Ireland would be waiving visas for 45 citizens escaping Afghanistan, some of whom have already made it to neighbouring Pakistan, and Ireland would be taking in up to 150 refugees.
Ireland would prioritise human rights workers, media workers and women and girls, the vulnerable", he told Morning Ireland.
He added that Ireland and the UN will need to do more to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people who would become displaced by the horror in Afghanistan, calling it a "foreign policy catastrophe" not seen in "decades".
Mr Coveney confirmed he would be "staying very close to" ... "anyone that has an Irish passport or Irish connections" to try and help them escape the country in the coming days.
He admitted to Newstalk that we will see "a lot more brutality, hundreds of thousands if not millions of refugees fleeing across borders... we're leaving behind an incredibly vulnerable and very frightened population in Afghanistan and that is a tragedy."