500 Afghan refugees to be airlifted to Italy, says defense minister

Mon, 2021-11-29 21:10

ROME: A new Italian Air Force airlift is bringing 500 more Afghan refugees to Rome, Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini said on Monday in Parliament.

The refugees are Afghan citizens and family members who worked with the Italian armed forces while they were deployed in Afghanistan, mostly in Herat province. They have all so far been displaced in countries close to Afghanistan.

Guerini named the operation “Aquila Omnia-Bis.” At the end of it, nearly 5,000 Afghans will be taken to Italy.

He told parliamentarians: “Last summer’s evacuation of Afghan citizens from Kabul was a very complex operation, but the incessant and silent work of the Italian armed forces has continued in the last few months too. Thanks to the collaboration between the defense, foreign affairs and interior ministries and the National Information Services we can say we are satisfied.”

Over 1,500 Italian military have been working on this airlift since it began in the second half of August.

A source in the Italian Defense Ministry told Arab News that, in the past few days, the first seven Afghan citizens of this second humanitarian airlift had reached Italy, including a woman in her final month of pregnancy. 

She was transferred to Grassi Hospital in Ostia, on the outskirts of Rome, immediately after landing at Rome Fiumicino. She gave birth to a girl.

After an isolation period in special facilities, all the refugees will be relocated in different cities nationwide.

More arrivals are expected in the coming days.

Italy completed its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan on June 30, ending a 20-year deployment.

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According to the Italian Foreign Ministry, 50,000 Italian soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan in the period after the 9/11 attacks. Over that period, 53 soldiers died and 723 were injured.

Italy was one of the five countries most involved in Afghanistan along with the US, Turkey, Britain and Germany as part of the Resolute Support Mission.

In this handout image courtesy of the US Navy, Afghan evacuees disembark a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, Italy on August 22, 2021. (AFP/File Photo)
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