Over 700 Dutch still stuck in Afghanistan
There are currently more than seven hundred people with a Dutch passport in Afghanistan. That is what Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigrid Kaag said on Friday before the Council of Ministers.
According to Kaag, this concerns "many people who appear to have gone on a family visit", despite the "clear travel advice" that applied to Afghanistan. "We have to get them back," said Kaag. This is still separate from Afghans who worked for the Netherlands and who the Netherlands is also trying to evacuate. They are at risk now that the Taliban is ruling the country.
It is very difficult to get people to and into the airport, especially if they only have an Afghan passport. According to the Minister, a solution is being sought. "We are investigating all possibilities," she said when asked whether it was also being considered to send more Dutch soldiers to the country to help with the evacuation. "We are working closely with Germany, who still has a military presence, and the United Kingdom."
She also did not rule out picking up people at a meeting point. "We have to investigate everything, everything, everything, but in the end we depend on what our military and allies say is feasible and safe. The Taliban have strengthened control at many military checkpoints, it is difficult for many countries to get people through. I spoke to our ambassador in Kabul this morning, who told me that the Norwegians could only get two of their nationals on a flight tonight."
Kaag will meet with NATO on Friday afternoon, where she will once again emphasize that it is essential that the American soldiers stay longer to ensure that the evacuations can take place safely. "We are totally dependent upon them." The deadline for the US departure is 31 August, but President Joe Biden did not rule out that more time will be needed for the evacuation.
An aircraft with about 180 passengers is on its way to Schiphol and it is expected to arrive on Friday afternoon. Kaag could not say how many Dutch people are on it, or whether there are also Afghans who worked for the Dutch mission. Due to the chaotic situation, "we do not yet have a picture of which aircraft our own people are on, or compatriots from other EU countries, or Afghans. No country knows for sure. We hope to be able to confirm soon."
Reporting by ANP.