Turkish citizens evacuated from Afghanistan on a military plane have recalled the chaos in the war-torn country, saying unemployed youth thronged Kabul airport with the expectation of starting a new life in western countries.
Some 273 Turks were flown from Kabul to Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, by a Turkish Armed Forces A400M plane, also known as a "flying fortress." They subsequently flew to Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines plane on Wednesday.
Rafet Gurbuz, a Turkish businessman, said they were sent off by the Turkish ambassador in Kabul and welcomed well in Islamabad.
"Apart from that, our commander in Kabul also paid a lot of attention to us. We are civilian businesspeople working there. We didn't have any problems... I do not believe that any Turkish citizens will stay there," he said.
Noting that no Turkish citizen had any hard time there, Gurbuz said: "The system makes the strong people of a strong country being noticed. We are lucky citizens of a strong country."
Flights were suspended at Afghanistan's main international airport in Kabul on Monday, as crowds of people anxiously waited at its gates in hopes of leaving the country.
A day after Afghanistan's capital fell to the Taliban, US and Afghan forces surrounded the airport, along with Taliban fighters, as gunshots were fired into the air to disperse the crowd.
Gurbuz said the local people want to leave the country.
"Especially unemployed young people, besides the Taliban’s fear, they naturally want to go to European countries and Turkey… because they have economic concerns. They want to seize this opportunity. That's one of my observations," he said, adding that he spent seven years in Afghanistan.
Gurbuz emphasized that he "didn't face any persecution" from the Taliban.
"All of our Afghan friends that we employed there went mainly to the US. That's why we closed our businesses."
'Turkish soldiers greeted us'
Anesthesiologist Mert Yamac said they did not encounter any problems after reaching the airport in Kabul.
"Turkish soldiers greeted us directly at the airport," Yamac said, emphasizing that they were safe at the airport.
He added that they flew to Pakistan by military plane before arriving in Turkey.
"The entire administration has been taken over by the Taliban," Yamac said, highlighting the complicated situation in Kabul. There are no government officials or civil servants. The bazaars and shops are all shut down. “All of Afghanistan is in chaos,” he added.
As part of the coronavirus measures, the evacuated people were given a COVID-19 test at Istanbul Airport.
They will be quarantined at their stated residence addresses. Those who get a negative result after the second test on the seventh day will be allowed to leave the quarantine on the tenth day.