Young Afghan girl bounds across the tarmac at airport

Skipping to freedom: Young Afghan girl celebrates escaping the Taliban by bounding across the tarmac after landing safely on evacuation flight in Belgium

  • The girl seemed to be jumping for joy at Melsbroek military air base in Belgium
  • She is one of 1,500 people evacuated from the country by the Belgian airforce
  • Britain has ended its evacuation flights for Britons and Afghan nationals 

A young Afghan girl was today photographed skipping across a runway after being safely evacuated from Kabul. 

The girl seemed to be jumping for joy when she arrived at Melsbroek military air base outside Brussels, Belgium. 

She is shown wearing yellow trousers and a yellow top while clutching a jacket, as a man, woman and little boy walk in front of her. 

Eurocrat and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt tweeted the image saying ‘welcome to Belgium, little girl!’.

Britain pulled the plug on its Kabul airlift last night after evacuating almost 15,000 UK citizens and Afghan nationals from the country.

But it has left behind up to 150 Britons and a further 1,000 Afghans who assisted the UK’s armed forces, which are now under Taliban rule.

Belgium has evacuated 1,500 people since its airlift began this month, after also taking part in military operations in the country.

The little girl seemed to be jumping for joy after landing safely at Melsbroek military air base outside Brussels, Belgium. She is pictured with a man, woman and little boy. It is unclear whether this is her family

A laughing refugee has also been pictured at US airbase Rota, in southern Spain (see above). They were evacuated from Kabul during the airlift

Thousands crowded to Kabul airport when the Taliban took the city in a desperate attempt to flee the country. Western countries have staged an airlift to evacuate their nationals and Afghans who they fear the Taliban may try to hunt down

The heartwarming photograph was taken by Reuters photographer Johanna Geron at the base which is next to Belgium’s busiest airport, Brussels Airport.

It is not clear whether the girl is with her mother, father and brother in the picture.

Mr Verhofstadt tweeted the image with the caption: ‘This is what happens when you protect refugees. Welcome to Belgium, little girl!’

The tweet has already been ‘liked’ more than 25,000 times, and received almost 1,000 comments.

The picture was taken on Wednesday, and local media report that the plane had arrived in Belgium from Islamabad, Pakistan.

The Belgian airforce has been evacuating people from Kabul to Islamabad, before putting them on to long haul flights to Belgium.

A laughing evacuee has also been pictured at US-run Rota airbase in southern Spain, after being evacuated from Kabul. 

British officials have also been pictured with Afghan refugees, who are thrilled to have made it to the UK.

Home Secretary Priti Patel was photographed talking to an Afghan mother and her children at Heathrow Airport on Thursday. 

And Health Secretary Sajid Javid was pictured greeting a family that had arrived in the UK. He tweeted their meeting with a message saying ‘welcome to Britain’. 

Eurocrat and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt tweeted the image saying ‘welcome to Belgium, little girl!’ It has been ‘liked’ more than 25,000 times

Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel was pictured greeting Afghans who have been rescued from Kabul at Heathrow airport on Thursday

Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid was also pictured welcoming an Afghan family to the country. He tweeted the image saying ‘welcome to Britain’.

Afghans queue at the main entrance gate of Kabul airport hoping to leave Afghanistan in Kabul on Saturday. The last UK flight carrying civilians left last night. All further British planes will be carrying military and diplomatic personnel

Britain’s Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the last evacuation flight has now taken off from Kabul, bringing the UK’s rescue mission to a close.

The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow, said: ‘It’s time to close this phase of the operation now, but we haven’t forgotten the people who still need to leave. 

‘We’ll continue to do everything we can to help them. Nor have we forgotten the brave, decent people of Afghanistan. They deserve to live in peace and security.’

Thousands of refugees have been unable to get to the Taliban-guarded airport or are too fearful to do so for the constant threat of terrorism. 

On Thursday, an ISIS suicide bomber killed at least 170 people, including 13 US soldiers, two Britons and the child of a UK national outside the airport walls.

The Pentagon announced overnight it carried out a retaliatory drone strike on the ISIS ‘planner’ behind the suicide attack. The ISIS chief’s car was obliterated by a missile while driving through Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan.

Britain’s last flight with military and official personnel is expected to land later today ahead of the Tuesday withdrawal deadline agreed by the U.S. and the Taliban.

General Sir Nick Carter said: ‘We should be holding our breath and thinking really hard of that last aeroplane.’

US troops now face a ‘very difficult’ few days acting as the ‘rear guard’ to the withdrawal, he added.

‘I think our American allies are going to be very challenged because the threat from ISIS-K has not gone away and of course there are still lots of desperate Afghans trying to get out,’ Sir Nick said.

General Sir Richard Barrons warned that ISIS now posed a threat which reached beyond Afghanistan to the UK.

‘What [the suicide bombing] does do is illustrate that Isis-K is a risk to the United Kingdom, here at home, and to our interests abroad,’ the general said.

‘We’re going to find common cause with the US, and indeed I think the Taliban, in bearing down on this terrible organisation for as long as it takes to neuter them.’ 

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