Embassy in Kabul asked Cabinet to evacuate local staff months ago: report
Since the spring of 2020, the Dutch embassy in Kabul had been asking the Cabinet to make preparations to quickly evacuate the local embassy staff should Afghanistan fall to the Taliban, the Volkskrant reported based on correspondence between the embassy and government which it has in its possession.
Despite these urgent and repeated requests, the Cabinet left the decision on when local embassy staff and their families would be evacuated until the last minute. Only two days before Kabul fell to the Taliban in mid-August did Ministers Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Affairs, Ank Bijleveld of Defense, and State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol of Asylum decide how and when to evacuate these people, which included staff that had been working for the Netherlands for 20 years.
According to the newspaper, the correspondence also showed that France offered to evacuate people for the Netherlands on a flight in July 2021. When asked why the Netherlands then only started evacuations in August, Minister Kaag said that she was not aware of the French evacuations at the time.
When the Dutch embassy was evacuated, the Dutch staff members were taken from their beds and to the airport by American troops, without the local employees being informed. They showed up to work the next morning to find the embassy abandoned.
In addition to embassy employees, other people who worked for the Netherlands were also left behind in Afghanistan, including interpreters who worked with Dutch armed forces, whom parliament had been asking to evacuate for months.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet said in a letter to parliament that "probably" 22 interpreters and their families were left behind in Afghanistan, NU.nl reports. The involved Ministries still have contact with some of them. A total of 436 interpreters and other Afghans, including family members, were evacuated to the Netherlands. 370 other people who worked for the Netherlands in another capacity were also brought to safety, Kaag, BIjleveld, and Broekers-Knol said.