Thousands of Afghan civilians desperate to flee Taliban rule have thronged Kabul airport in the past few days, to the shame of Western nations, according to Germany's president Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday (August 17).
Germany, which had the second-largest military contingent in Afghanistan after the United States, said it would work with its partners in the European Union to provide aid to neighboring countries facing an influx of Afghan civilians.
The country's foreign Minister Heiko Maas, speaking ahead of an EU foreign ministers' emergency meeting, said Berlin was working to get as many people as possible out of Afghanistan, among them German-Afghan dual nationals as well as rights activists, lawyers and people who worked with foreign forces.
Kava Spartak manages an Afghan refugee organization in Berlin and says Germany must take a leading role in helping Afghans to get out.
"I mean, particularly the German government have missed a lot of opportunities. They have missed opportunities to evacuate people, they have missed opportunities to inform their own population about the security in Afghanistan. They were actually more concentrated on deportations.
The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, meanwhile, called for an immediate halt to forced deportations of Afghan asylum seekers.
Austria, which insisted it plans to keep deporting illegal immigrants back to Afghanistan even as the Taliban seized Kabul, has suggested setting up "deportation centers" in nearby countries as an alternative.
A photograph showing more than 600 Afghan men, women and children - crouching on the floor of a U.S. military plane - has gone viral on social media, shining a spotlight on the plight of Afghan civilians who want to flee.