Defense blocked evacuation of Dutch-Afghan employees' family: report
Afghan-Dutch people who work for the Dutch military over the past 10 days begged for their family members to be evacuated from Afghanistan and brought to the Netherlands. But Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld decided not to deviate from the IND standard of only "core family" being allowed, and as a result employees' siblings and parents did not appear on the evacuation lists, multiple sources confirmed to the Volkskrant.
According to the newspaper's sources, there was debate on whether or not to put these family members on the evacuation list high up in the Ministry of Defense. The matter is extremely sensitive, because some family members are now at risk from the Taliban because of the work the Afghan-Dutch employees did with the Dutch Armed Forces.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense stressed to the newspaper that Minister Bijleveld did not personally decide on these urgent requests, though the newspaper's sources said that these requests were submitted to her. According to the Ministry, it was decided at a ministerial level - and confirmed by the cabinet - that evacuations will "only concern the core family". Decisions about people who fall outside of the core family are made on a case-by-case basis. Though according to the Volkskrant, the core family criteria was strictly enforced since the fall of Kabul ten days ago.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to the Volkskrant that an exception was made for the local staff of the Dutch embassy in Kabul - some embassy workers were allowed to bring extended family members like a parent with them. Both Ministries said that military interpreters were also allowed in some cases to bring a dependent family member who is not part of the core family. Volunteers knew of only one such case, according to the newspaper - an interpreter was allowed to bring their mother to the Netherlands after their case got media attention.
Anne-Marie Snels, former chairman of the military union who is now dedicated to helping left-behind Afghan personnel get to the Netherlands, called it striking that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs treated the "core family" criteria "much more generously" with its own embassy staff than Defense did with the military staff. "Why there and not elsewhere?" she asked the newspaper.
Immigration lawyer Barbara Wegelin is helping an Afghan-Dutch veteran who was deployed five times with the Dutch military and whose siblings are now threatened by the Taliban. There is some hope for his brother, because he worked for a Dutch development organization in Afghanistan. But his sister's request for evacuation was rejected.
"But it's not that easy, because there is a question of 'derived risk' here," Wegelin said to the Volkskrant. "Those persons are directly at risk because of work that a family member does or did for Defense. We previously argued with the interpreters that such a risk that is derived from work their relative did for the Netherlands must have the consequence that they too must receive protection in the Netherlands."