Dutch military pulled 2,500 people from Kabul including final evacuation flight Thursday
The Dutch military evacuated more than 2,500 people from Afghanistan in the past week, including more than 1,600 people with the Netherlands as their destination. The Cabinet reported this in a letter to Parliament about the evacuation mission which ended on Thursday with a final flight from Kabul to Islamabad in which remaining Dutch diplomats and soldiers were on board.
"It is terrible to have to leave Afghanistan after 20 years in this way," tweeted caretaker Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag. "It is with a heavy heart that the embassy team and the military have left with the last Dutch flight."
Among the evacuees are Dutch nationals, interpreters and their families and people who have worked in the Dutch service in the past and may therefore be at risk now that the Taliban have seized power in the country. The government cannot yet state exact numbers per group.
Until August 31, the Netherlands will keep an airplane, a number of soldiers and a small embassy team ready to transport more people "against current expectations" if possible. However, it will not be possible to evacuate everyone who Dutch Parliamentarians identified. It is not known how many people are being left behind. The evaluation of this operation will follow later, the Cabinet writes.
Kaag acknowledged on social media that the departure of the Dutch will "drastic consequences" for the people who have not yet been brought to safety. "The commitment remains to help all those entitled to return or evacuation, together with international allies, and to continue to support the Afghan people."
Employees of the IND immigration service will continue to be present in Tbilisi and Islamabad, the airports where people arrived who were leaving Kabul for the Netherlands. Consular assistance for people in that area is now being provided from The Hague, and perhaps in the future from a neighboring country.
In addition, together with other countries, it is being examined whether anything can be done from Afghanistan in the future to assist Dutch people and Afghans who have worked for the Netherlands. It may be necessary to have contacts with the Taliban for this, according to the letter.
The evacuees are being received at Defense sites in Zoutkamp, Huis ter Heide, Harskamp and Amsterdam. There will also be temporary housing locations in the municipalities of Nijmegen and Heumen. Some will go on to another country, while others have to be housed somewhere by the municipalities.
"In view of the tightness in the housing market, this may take longer," the Cabinet warns.
Reporting by ANP.