Western nations continue to rush to evacuate people from Afghanistan, with less than a week until foreign troops leave, acknowledging that many Afghans who helped during two decades of war would be left behind to an uncertain fate under the Taliban.

Although the airlift is due to last until Tuesday, the US military said it would shift its focus in the final two days to evacuating its own troops.

US President Joe Biden has ordered all troops out of the South Asian nation by the end of the month, spurning pleas from European allies for more time to get people who helped NATO countries during the conflict to safety.

In the 10 days since the Taliban swept into Kabul, the United States and its allies have mounted one of the biggest air evacuations ever, bringing out more than 88,000 people, including 19,000 in the past 24 hours.

The US military says planes are taking off the equivalent of every 39 minutes.

Mr Biden, implementing a withdrawal negotiated by his predecessor Donald Trump, said US troops in Afghanistan faced mounting danger if they stayed.

The White House said the president was briefed today on contingency plans for the Afghanistan evacuation as well as the threat from the ISIS-K militant group.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at least 4,500 American citizens and their families had been evacuated from Afghanistan since mid-August, and the State Department was 'aggressively' reaching out to about 1,000 who remained.

Antony Blinken arrives for a briefing on Afghanistan at the US Capitol

Mr Blinken told a news conference there was no deadline for the effort to help people who want to leave Afghanistan, both Americans and others, and that it would continue for "as long as it takes."

The Taliban have said foreign troops must be out by the end of the month.

It has encouraged Afghans to stay, while saying those with permission to leave will still be allowed to do so once commercial flights resume after the foreign troops go.

Several of Washington's European allies say they no longer have time to rescue all of the many thousands of Afghans who helped their forces and their diplomatic and aid efforts.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the deadline for evacuating people was up to the last minute of the month.

France said it would push on with evacuations as long as possible but was likely to end them in the coming hours or days.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country would try to help Afghans even after the deadline expired.

The Netherlands said it was all but certain that many people eligible for asylum would not be taken out in time.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said his country has ended evacuations from Kabul.

On Twitter, Mr De Croo said that "given the development of the situation in Afghanistan" it had been decided to conclude operations and evacuate remaining personnel.

Belgium's move was made "in consultation with European partners", he added.

The country's military planes transported around 1,100 people from Kabul via the Pakistani capital Islamabad between Friday and yesterday evening, including European citizens, Afghans in danger and their families.

The evacuees will be brought on to Belgium from Pakistan "in the coming days", Mr De Croo said.

Besides Belgians and Afghans, citizens of the Netherlands, Denmark and Luxembourg were evacuated in the Belgian operation, as well as refugees with asylum claims in those countries.

UK updates travel advice due to terrorist threat

The Foreign Office in London has updated its travel advice for UK nationals in Afghanistan due to "an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack".

The advice now reads: "The security situation in Afghanistan remains volatile. There is an ongoing and high threat of terrorist attack.

"Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport. If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice.

"Commercial flights are not currently operating. If you can leave Afghanistan safely by other means, you should do so immediately.

"We have suspended all non-essential operations at the British Embassy in Kabul in response to the deterioration in the security situation. The embassy has relocated. The FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) is only providing consular assistance remotely and is extremely limited.

"Travel by road throughout the country is extremely dangerous. There have been allegations of people being mistreated on their way to Kabul International Airport," the advice concluded.

Tens of thousand seeks flights from Kabul

Tens of thousands of Afghans fearing persecution have thronged Kabul's airport seeking flights out since the takeover by the Islamist militants.

Today, many people milled about outside the airport - where soldiers were trying to maintain order amid the dust and heat.

They carried bags and suitcases stuffed with possessions, and waved documents at soldiers in the hope of gaining entry. One man, standing knee-deep in a flooded ditch, passed a child to a man above.

"I learned from an email from London that the Americans are taking people out. That's why I've come, so I can go abroad," said one man, Aizaz Ullah.

While the focus is now on those trying to flee, the risk of starvation, disease and persecution is rising for the rest of the population, aid agencies say.

"There's a perfect storm coming because of several years of drought, conflict, economic deterioration, compounded by Covid," according to David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, who said that about 14 million people were threatened with starvation.

A satellite image shows large crowds gathered at the northern edge of Kabul airport

The UN human rights chief said she had received credible reports of serious violations by the Taliban, including "summary executions" of civilians and Afghan security forces who had surrendered.

The Taliban has said it will investigate reports of atrocities.

The UN itself leaves behind around 3,000 Afghan staff at its mission.

A UN security document reviewed by Reuters described dozens of incidents of threats, the looting of UN offices and physical abuse of staff since 10 August.

Gunmen have come looking for some, while others have gone into hiding.

The Taliban's 1996-2001 rule was marked by public executions, the curtailment of political rights and basic freedoms curtailed. Women were barred from school or work, and confined to their homes without male chaperones.

Afghanistan was also a hub for anti-Western militants, and Washington, London and others fear it might become so again.

The Taliban has said it will respect human rights including those of women, and not allow terrorists to operate from the country.

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The Taliban is seeking to persuade people at the airport to go home, saying they have nothing to fear.

"Foreign troops should withdraw by the deadline. It will pave the way for resumption of civilian flights," Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter.

"People with legal documents can travel through commercial flights after 31 August."

The Taliban has asked Turkey to provide help to keep the airport open after foreign troops leave, but has also said that no Turkish troops will be permitted to stay. Turkey began evacuating its troops today.

In Washington, Mr Blinken said there were "very active" efforts under way on the part of countries in the region to see whether they could play a role in keeping the airport open or reopening it in the event it closed after foreign troops left.

The US-backed Afghan government collapsed swiftly when President Biden withdrew troops, two decades after they ousted the Taliban in the weeks after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, planned from Afghan territory by al Qaeda.

The Taliban is switching focus to how to run a country in crisis. Key posts are expected to be filled by loyal veterans of their insurgency.

According to Afghanistan's Pajhwok news agency, the future finance minister will be Gul Agha, who is on international sanctions lists for acting as the insurgents' financial chief.

Al Jazeera news channel reported the new defence minister would be Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, a former detainee at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.