The House of Representatives has sufficient support for the cabinet plan to bring a group of around 2100 Afghans to the Netherlands. The coalition parties VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie, but also some opposition parties are satisfied.
MP Piri of the PvdA thinks it‘s a good step. “We are going to make efforts for those who have been left in agony,” she said in the Chamber debate about the plan.
The demissionary cabinet presented the plan on Monday. After some time of ambiguity, it was decided not only to allow interpreters but also employees of aid organisations to come to the Netherlands. The cabinet has tried to draw up clear criteria.
It concerns Afghans, for example, who have helped the military mission for at least a year. They must have worked visibly with Dutch development organisations for at least one year since 2018.
CDA MP Boswijk agrees that Afghans of aid organisations are also eligible to come to the Netherlands. “It’s about people in danger. Unfortunately, we cannot evacuate and satisfy everyone. There are always boundary cases.”
Coalition Party D66 is pleased that at least the focus is now on the most visible and vulnerable Afghans. “We can remove the highest risk right now. I can support that,” said MP Belhaj. The PVV is against the arrival of more Afghans.
Demissionary Minister Knapen of Foreign Affairs welcomes the support. “It‘s heartwarming that we have to do something broadly.” He showed understanding for MPs who find it “not enough” or want “much less”. “We’re reasonably trying to do what‘s realistic.”
Knapen stressed that the number of 2100 is not a maximum. “It’s an estimate, it can be less.”
The debate also dealt with the large amounts of Afghanistan documents that the cabinet sent to the House of Representatives yesterday. These pieces are about summer decision-making about the removal of Afghans who worked for the Netherlands. The more than 800 pages of information include whatsapp messages, mails and minutes from the Foreign and Defence Ministries in particular.
The documents contain an email from an unnamed embassy official who says the Foreign Ministry is asking for something impossible: selecting three people from the 58-man Afghan embassy staff who can come to the Netherlands. Former Foreign Minister and D66 leader Kaag said in September that she knew nothing about such a request. The documents also show that there was quite a bit of irritation between the two ministries.
In the debate, the new Minister Knapen addressed the debate on the “number three” which has been ongoing for months. That number was mentioned in a phone call between the State Department and someone from the embassy. “It‘s just not mentioned as a fact. But as an example of what a restrictive policy was.”
Knapen regrets that the number started living a life of its own and thinks that Kaag has acted according to conscience. “It sounds very unheimical now, when it was said, “three and no more. Figure it out. The rest can keep me stolen. ‘”