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1st group of 149 Afghan evacuees arrives in North Macedonia

August 31, 2021 GMT
Afghan evacuees disembark a plane after landing at Skopje International Airport, North Macedonia, late Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. North Macedonia hosted the first group of about 150 Afghan evacuees who made it out of their country after days of chaos near the Kabul airport, following the takeover by the Taliban. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Afghan evacuees disembark a plane after landing at Skopje International Airport, North Macedonia, late Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. North Macedonia hosted the first group of about 150 Afghan evacuees who made it out of their country after days of chaos near the Kabul airport, following the takeover by the Taliban. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Afghan evacuees disembark a plane after landing at Skopje International Airport, North Macedonia, late Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. North Macedonia hosted the first group of about 150 Afghan evacuees who made it out of their country after days of chaos near the Kabul airport, following the takeover by the Taliban. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
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Afghan evacuees disembark a plane after landing at Skopje International Airport, North Macedonia, late Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. North Macedonia hosted the first group of about 150 Afghan evacuees who made it out of their country after days of chaos near the Kabul airport, following the takeover by the Taliban. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
1 of 4
Afghan evacuees disembark a plane after landing at Skopje International Airport, North Macedonia, late Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. North Macedonia hosted the first group of about 150 Afghan evacuees who made it out of their country after days of chaos near the Kabul airport, following the takeover by the Taliban. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — A first group of 149 Afghan evacuees landed late Monday in North Macedonia, where they will stay for a few months pending resettlement elsewhere.

The passengers on a private Afghan Kam Air flight that arrived at Skopje international airport were employees of Western organizations in Afghanistan and members of their families.

Met first by medical workers in protective clothing, the Afghan men, women and children were transferred to a hotel near the capital, Skopje. They will be tested for the coronavirus and granted temporary three-month visas.

Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said the evacuees were people in acute need of help.

“These are our allies, people we have worked with us and whose lives are in danger, and people who need help the most,” he said.

North Macedonia has agreed to host temporarily at least 750 Afghans who worked with U.S-led international forces.

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Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has said all evacuees will be sheltered in hotels near Skopje, at the expense of international organizations as well as the U.S.

North Macedonia has been a NATO member since 2020, and it had troops in Afghanistan to support the alliance deployment in 2002-2014.