It was the video seen around the world that in a few seconds captured the sheer chaos and desperation at the airport in Kabul as thousands of people tried to get inside to escape the Taliban. Amid the mass of people, the video showed how a toddler was suddenly lifted up and a Marine grabbed the baby by the arm and passed the child to someone behind him. The video quickly went viral as many interpreted the scene as an example of how families were willing to part with their children to give them hope of a better future. But the military later clarified that the baby had been reunited with their family.
“The baby seen in the video was taken to a medical treatment facility on site and cared for by medical professionals,” Maj. James Stenger, a spokesman for the Marines, said. “I can confirm the baby was reunited with their father and is safe at the airport.” The spokesman didn’t expand on how many babies were in a similar position, but he characterized it as “a true example of the professionalism of the Marines on site, who are making quick decisions in a dynamic situation in support of evacuation operations.” Earlier, a Pentagon spokesman said the Marines were told the baby was sick and were asked to help. “It was an act of compassion because there was concern about the baby,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
President Joe Biden on Friday vowed that all Americans and Afghans who helped the war effort will be evacuated from Afghanistan. “We have seen gut-wrenching images of panicked people acting out of sheer desperation,” Biden said. “It is completely understandable. They are frightened. They are sad. I don’t think anyone of us can see these pictures and not feel that pain on a human level.” Around 6,000 American troops are now helping to restore order at the airport and organize evacuation efforts. Some lawmakers are calling on the White House to authorize an extension of the security perimeter around Kabul airport so more Afghans can get inside.
For now, the United States is asking Americans and Afghans to avoid traveling to the Kabul airport as chaos around its walls continues to grow. “Because of potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” reads a U.S. Embassy advisory. The chaos in the airport was so dire that Switzerland postponed a planned charter flight. “The security situation around Kabul airport has worsened significantly in the last hours. A large number of people in front of the airport and sometimes violent confrontations are hindering access to the airport,” the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.