Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received nearly 22,000 requests from people in Afghanistan who think they are eligible to be evacuated to the Netherlands. The demissionary ministers Kaag and Bijleveld and Secretary of State Broekers-Knol write in a “fact-story” to the House of Representatives that almost 41,000 emails received until Sunday at the special email address. Of these, there are 21,512 “which initially appear to relate to the Belhaj and others.”
With that motion, the House of Representatives asks the cabinet to evacuate, apart from interpreters, people who have worked in a different way for the Netherlands. These include security and chefs, as well as journalists and human rights advocates.
The officials emphasise that one email can relate to several people and that the number of people involved is far greater than the number of emails: “In some situations, an email will highlight the situation of a large group of people.” Kaag, Bijleveld and Broekers write that a further inventory should show how many people are concerned. The ministries try to keep in touch with Dutch and interpreters who are still in Afghanistan.
1673 people evacuated
According to the fact story, 1673 people have been evacuated to the Netherlands from the Afghan capital Kabul in recent weeks. The Chamber had asked the cabinet to list the facts surrounding the evacuation. MPs have always had a lot of criticism, particularly at the pace at which interpreters and others who worked for the Netherlands have been brought to the Netherlands.
Dutch soldiers sent at least six families away from the airport in Kabul last month, while on the evacuation list and summoned for evacuation, revealed earlier today. Nesar Ahmed is a brother of three men who are still in Afghanistan. He is disappointed, he says in this video:
The officials stress that the story is based on the information available so far. They write that the cabinet is continuing efforts to evacuate even more people. “The operation will also be independently evaluated afterwards to learn from the events.”
According to the ministers and the Secretary of State, the group brought to the Netherlands consists of 708 Dutch, 371 interpreters and others who worked for international military or police missions including their family members.
In addition, 211 local embassy staff, including families, 15 local EU staff, 30 UN staff, 19 people working for NATO and 319 who are among the Belhaj motions target groups have been evacuated.
Kaag, Bijleveld and Broekers also write that initially a team of Foreign Affairs and Defence and a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft were left in the Pakistani capital Islamabad to be deployed. But they returned to the Netherlands over the weekend, when “it became clear that no commitment was foreseen in the short term”.
The House of Representatives will soon hold a plenary debate on the evacuations and how the Cabinet has handled statements from the House. Many MPs think the fact story raises a lot of questions and say today that the cabinet has taken action too late.
“The debate should also quickly clarify the hundreds of people who are still waiting for evacuation,” says PvdA MP Piri. It submitted the request for the debate on behalf of a large majority of the other parties. In addition to the three signatory members of the debate, Demissionary Prime Minister Rutte must be present.