Broekers-Knol regrets statements in criticized Afghanistan interview

Secretary of State Broekers-Knol regrets her statements about Afghans. The publication yesterday in the AD led to fierce reactions in both opposition and coalition. Broekers-Knol says today that she regrets not choosing her words more carefully.

The VVD Secretary of State for Justice and Security said in the interview that 100,000 Afghans might want to come to the Netherlands. She based that on the 23,000 emails of help inquiries that came in to Foreign Affairs. The number came to criticism, because it is quite a high estimate. โ€œWaving potential 100,000 refugees is really nonsense,โ€ said CDA MP Boswijk, for example.

โ€œThe message was: if the aid question received by mail would lead to 100,000 new asylum seekers, our asylum system cannot handle that,โ€ says Broekers-Knol now. โ€œI didnt want to prejudge how the cabinet deals with the help questions that have come in. I shouldnt have mentioned this hypothetical number.โ€

Much criticism also came to referring to a โ€œbrain drainโ€ by the Secretary of State. She believes that would be a risk to Afghanistan if too many people flee the country. The Taliban themselves have used the braindrain argument recently to prevent people from leaving.

In her response today, Broekers-Knol calls the departure of highly educated people from Afghanistan โ€œa genuine concernโ€. โ€œBut I shouldnt have mentioned that in the context of this part of the interview, which was mainly about the people who are now trying to leave Afghanistan.โ€

According to the Secretary of State, she wanted to โ€œoutline dilemmasโ€ about protecting people in need and the role of the Netherlands in the interview. โ€œMy comments on brain drain and reception capacity were meant in that general sense.โ€