Dutch gov't used students to help evacuate Afghan interpreters: report
After Kabul fell to the Taliban in August last year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs used students to help evacuate Afgan interpreters, Zembla reports after speaking to some of these students. "I thought I would make sandwiches, but we had to contact interpreters and guide them to the airport," one student told the program.
After the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, thousands of people tried to flee the country, including Afghan interpreters who worked with the Dutch army and their family members. A week into the crisis, Foreign Affairs called in students to support the crisis team. These were students who, in addition to their studies, participate in the Defense College - a student work program that consists of a part-time job for one or two days a week.
The students' work consisted of way more than support. From day one, they had to contact Afghan interpreters in Kabul and guide them safely to the airport, according to Zembla. "We started calling them with questions like where are you at the moment? How many people are with you? Do you have your passport details? And then we followed them to the airport via Whatsapp," a student said to the program. They had no support from the Ministry. "We were the crisis team," another said.
Former diplomat Pieter Feith is critical of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs using students in a crisis. "A crisis must be managed by professionals. You saddle inexperienced young people with responsibilities that can cost human lives," he said to Zembla.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not answer Zembla's questions about the matter. A spokesperson said that "an evaluation is currently underway."