Afghans "arbitrarily" selected for evacuation to NL; 480 still waiting 1 year later
One year after the Taliban conquered Afghanistan, the Cabinet is still working to evacuate 480 Afghans who worked for Dutch organizations. Advocates and lawyers believe that the government decided “arbitrarily” who gets to be evacuated and who has to stay in Afghanistan, they said to AD.
The government wants to evacuate the 480 people still waiting within a month and a half, Minster Wopke Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs said in a letter to parliament last month. But it is uncertain whether it will meet this deadline, Trouw reports. The Netherlands now allows people on the evacuation list to fly from Pakistan without a passport. But the Taliban is not always cooperative in letting people cross the border.
Afghanistan fell to the Taliban on 12 August 2021. During the takeover, the Netherlands complied a list of Afghans who worked for Dutch organizations, including the embassy. They would get asylum in the Netherlands.
But according to lawyers and other representatives, the Netherlands was very arbitrary about who could and could not qualify for evacuation. NU.nl recently reported that ten former employees of the European police mission in Afghanistan did not qualify for evacuation, for example. But many of their colleagues were evacuated to the Netherlands.
The Afghans who did not make it onto the evacuation list cannot appeal against the decision, the lawyers and representatives said to AD. They can’t even get a government official to discuss why they did not qualify.
Since the fall of Afghanistan, the Netherlands evacuated about 4,000 people from the country. According to Trouw, the 480 people left behind are waiting in Afghanistan or a neighboring country, often in dangerous conditions.
Some 2,200 people were evacuated after August 26 last year, when the Netherlands withdrew from Afghanistan at the United States' request. The slow evacuation process ultimately led to the resignation of Ministers Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Affairs and Ank Bijleveld of Defense. They received warnings to prepare for evacuations months before the country fell to the Taliban.