Incredible story behind Kabul image beamed around the world

·4-min read

Scenes of chaos continue to emanate from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as desperate Afghans try to flee the country.

One haunting image in particular has been beamed around the world as locals try to escape the barbaric rule of the extremist Taliban which now awaits the country.

A desperate man was filmed passing a baby over barbed wire to US troops at the perimeter of the airport where locals have spent days hoping to talk their way onto a departing flight.

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport for it to be evacuated, in Kabul, Afghanistan
A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport for it to be evacuated, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 19. Source: Reuters.

Australian-raised BBC journalist Yalda Hakim, who has been reporting from the ground in Afghanistan before the capital fell to the Taliban, was among the many to share the image online. 

"The desperation - moment a baby is passed over to a US soldier at Kabul airport. Earlier today a child died at the airport," she tweeted alongside the still. 

With the photo circulating on social media, many worried about the fate of the baby and its family. 

Major Jim Stenger, a spokesperson for the US Marine Corps, would later assure people the child has made it to safety and had been reunited with its family. 

"The baby seen in the video was taken to a medical treatment facility on site and cared for by medical professionals. 

"I can confirm the baby was reunited with their father and is safe at the airport. This is a true example of the professionalism of the Marines on site," he said in a statement. 

US soldiers are stationed at the airport to keep order as military and civilian evacuation flights – including by the Australian military – continue to ferry people out of the country. 

A US Marine holds what is believed to be the same baby during the evacuation frenzy.
A US Marine holds what is believed to be the same baby during the evacuation frenzy. Source: Reuters

'It is dangerous': Australia cautious on further Kabul trips

Further flights into Kabul are being carefully planned as the government seeks to rescue hundreds of Australian citizens, former interpreters and embassy guards.

A third ADF plane carrying 80 Australian citizens, permanent visa holders and local employees who have worked with Australia and New Zealand arrived from the Afghanistan capital on Friday evening.

But the ongoing mission is being hampered by Australian military personnel being unable to go beyond Kabul's airport due to the Taliban's chaotic and increasingly violent takeover of the city.

"There are people in their thousands crowding around the entrances to the airport, and there have been - unfortunately - injuries as well and we have had to address some of those amongst our passenger cohorts, too," Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

"It is dangerous."

It has been reported 12 people have been killed in and around the airport, where more than 5200 US troops are based.

While US president Joe Biden has vowed to evacuate all American and those who helped US soldiers, the Australian prime minister conceded this week his government won't be able to help all the stranded Afghans who assisted Australian soldiers.

"We wish it were different," he said.

Scott Morrison has been advised sending Australian troops in to the city to help people is not viable.

"The United States continues to engage directly with the Taliban about the arrangements ... enabling flights to go in and out of the airport," he said on Friday.

"But we are dealing with the Taliban, so I'm not making any assumptions, and I am moving as quickly and as safely as we possibly can to get as many people out as fast as we can."

More than 240 Australians and Afghan visa holders had been evacuated from Kabul over the past few days, senior minister Stuart Robert said on Saturday.

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"It brings the total to 690 visas issued to Afghan locally-engaged employees who served with us since April and 1009 since 2013."

Sixty citizens and Afghans who helped Australia during the war were transported to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday night.

The first Australian flight from Dubai carrying 94 evacuees touched down in Perth in the early hours of Friday.

Mr Morrison thanked British counterpart Boris Johnson for the Royal Air Force's assistance in a phone call after the operation.

with AAP

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