MINISTER for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney says that Ireland will accept between 100-150 refugees from Afghanistan currently fleeing the Taliban.
He added that "a lot more" will be accepted into the country over the coming weeks and months as Ireland joins dozens of nations in offering a helping hand to the desperate Afghan citizens trying to escape the country.
It's understood that there are 23 Irish nationals currently in the Afghan capital of Kabul, and Minister Coveney confirmed that the government was processing their transport back to Ireland.
He also said Ireland would be waiving visas for 45 citizens escaping Afghanistan, some of whom have already made it to neighbouring Pakistan, and that millions of people are expected to flee the country in the coming months.
The Taliban, an Islamic militant organisation based in Afghanistan, rolled into Kabul on Sunday and have now effectively taken over the country after capturing a number of other major Afghan cities earlier this month.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 16, 2021
Hundreds of citizens stormed the runway of Kabul airport trying to board a US military plane on Monday, and harrowing footage emerged of two people, who had tried to cling to the tyres of the aircraft, falling to their deaths shortly after the plane took off.
"It's a very chaotic and fearful time. Afghanistan essentially has capitulated to the Taliban who are people who are extremely driven by an extreme form of Islam and we know their record in terms of how they treat women and girls [and] the brutality of their rule," Minister Coveney told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.
"I think we can be pretty sure that we will see hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of refugees trying to flee into neighbouring countries like Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and the UN is going to have to try to coordinate and fund the response to that, and certainly that is where Ireland's focus is.
"This is a foreign policy catastrophe, the likes of which we haven't seen in decades, I'm afraid, internationally. The consequences for a country of 38 million people is very very uncertain now. The pace at which this has happened has taken everybody by surprise," he added.