Netherlands left 30 interpreters, 200 others behind in Afghanistan
Around 30 Afghan interpreters who worked with the Dutch armed forces and were intended to be evacuated from Afghanistan, are still stuck in the Taliban-controlled country, Minster Ank Bijleveld of Defense said before the weekly Council of Ministers on Friday.
About 200 other people who were on buses on their way to a Dutch evacuation flight from Kabul airport on Thursday, were told to turn around at the last minute due to the deteriorating security situation and are also still in Afghanistan, sources told NOS. The airport was attacked a short time later.
On August 15, there were still 67 interpreters on the Netherlands' evacuation list, Bijleveld said on Friday. About half of them were evacuated with their families. The Ministry has contact with a few of those left behind, but Bijleveld would say nothing more about that, citing security reasons.
"The entire international community was taken by surprise by the speed with which this happened," Bijleveld said when asked whether the Netherlands should have started evacuating people sooner. "When it comes to the interpreters, we started on time," she said. "We have been working on that for a number of years. But the people themselves were also surprised by it. Some people were there on family visits, everyone was surprised."
The around 200 other people who didn't make it to the evacuation flight were told that they were on a list to be evacuated. But on the bus on the way to the airport, Dutch diplomats called and informed them to not to come to the airport anymore, NOS reports based on information from sources. Shortly before that, 118 people on three other buses did manage to enter the airport.
The Netherlands stopped evacuations from Afghanistan on Thursday. On Friday morning the penultimate evacuation flight with 100 passengers on board, including 98 with a Dutch passport, landed at Schiphol. The last evacuation flight with 87 Dutch citizens on board was expected on Friday afternoon. Another plane carrying diplomats and soldiers will land later on Friday or over the weekend.
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. "It is terrible to have to leave Afghanistan after 20 years in this way," Kaag said after the last flight departed on Thursday. "It is with a heavy heart that the embassy team and the military have left with the last Dutch flight."
Zojuist is ons laatste vliegtuig uit #Kabul opgestegen. Ik heb gemengde gevoelens. We zien verschrikkelijke berichten over aanslagen. We blijven ons inzetten met @MinBZ om mensen die achterblijven in Afghanistan bij te staan. pic.twitter.com/jYwgCpvdE1— Minister van Defensie (@DefensieMin) August 26, 2021
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.