Dutch soldiers sent Afghan families on evacuation list away from Kabul airport
Last month, Dutch soldiers sent at least six families away from the airport in Kabul, while they were on the evacuation list and had been called to the airport for evacuation. Three of these families are still stuck in Afghanistan, NOS reports after conversations with relatives of the families and others involved, and based on documents they shared with the broadcaster.
According to NOS, the problem lay in Dutch soldiers not always having an interpreter with them when speaking to the Afghan families at the airport. As a result, they could not read identity cards in Arabic script, or spelled names wrong when entered into the computer, so that it appeared that people were not on the evacuation list. The six families who were first sent away from the airport were again notified by the Dutch embassy that they were scheduled for evacuation the next day. Three of the families made it in time and were brought to the Netherlands.
The other three families tried to reach the airport, but were unsuccessful. The fathers of these families are brothers and worked in security at Kamp Holland, the base in the province of Uruzgan where Dutch soldiers were stationed for years. A fourth brother, Nesar Ahmed, was the commander of 240 Afghan security guards at Kamp Holland around 2010. He's been living in the Netherlands for two years.
According to NOS, two of the brothers waited for hours in an open sewer at the airport on August 24 before Dutch soldiers let them in. Once inside the airport, they showed their Afghan ID cards with their names in Arabic script at the checkpoint. The Dutch soldiers couldn't read it, Ahmed said to the broadcaster. "The Germans did have interpreters with them and were checking names very carefully. That did not happen with the Dutch."
The third brother had an ID with an English translation and was initially allowed through, but was later sent back again. "They wanted proof that he worked for the Netherlands. He said that he did not have his access pass from that time with him. Then they said: sorry, then you didn't work for us," Nesar Ahmed told the broadcaster. It later turned out that this brother was indeed on the evacuation list and should have been evacuated, NOS said. The broadcaster confirmed these stories through voice messages between Ahmed and his brothers, and correspondence between the family and the Ministry of Defense. The three brothers and their families are still in Afghanistan.
There is also a seventh family, whose father made it into the airport to speak with the Dutch soldiers, but ultimately did not make it to the Netherlands. The family was on the evacuation list. After checking the papers, the soldiers told the man to go get his wife and children just outside the airport gate. When he returned a few minutes later with his family, the gate was closed, the man told NOS. His bag with his family's passports and other personal papers was behind the closed gate. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told him to wait, but the gate never opened again and he and his family never got their passports back. His story is supported by emails he sent and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to the broadcaster.
The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense told NOS in a response that the evacuation happened under very extreme and chaotic conditions. They also said that they cannot comment on individual cases.