Videos shared on social media this weekend show traffic jams en route to Kabul’s airport as many people try to flee Afghanistan in anticipation of Taliban rule. One who succeeded was Pres. Ashraf Ghani, The New York Times reports, despite insisting as recently as Saturday that he would not step down amidst mounting pressure to do so. The exiled leader has not confirmed his present location directly. According to the Times, he and his wife, Rula Ghani, and a pair of aides boarded a plane headed to Uzbekistan, but an unnamed Afghan Interior Ministry official told Reuters that he departed for Tajikistan.
Others who have attempted to leave Afghanistan as the Taliban seizes control following 20 years of violent American-led intervention have not been so lucky. The cost of a seat on an airline skyrocketed over the weekend, Al Jazeera reports, with a one-way flight to Istanbul, for example, costing upwards of $2,400. But even that cost-prohibitive option is no more. Hamid Karzi International Airport suspended all commercial flights out of Kabul on Sunday, per the Associated Press, leaving Afghan citizens with the means and desire to flee few options to do so.
The price of basic goods like food and fuel have also risen dramatically as the Taliban, which entered the presidential palace hours after Ghani’s departure on Sunday, completes what Al Jazeera describes as a military “blitzkrieg” that began in early August. Lines have formed outside of banks and ATMs in Kabul as panicked locals and displaced residents from elsewhere in the country attempt to take out all their money with little to no success. “The banks in all the provinces captured by the Taliban are not giving out any money,” Ahmad Ashraf of Pol-e-Khomri told Al Jazeera. Ashraf said that he’d been trying to withdraw cash for three days to no avail. “Everyone is very tense and everyone now is looking at the banks to get their money out, and there is no money,” another man told the outlet.