Afghans left in Kabul after the withdrawal of foreign troops will not be able to ask for help after today via the email address that was created before. This leaves behind feeling abandoned and fear that it will be even harder to come to the Netherlands.
An Afghan interpreter, with whom deCCeit is in regular contact, says that his dreams have fallen into disorderly. He worked for the Dutch army at Kamp Holland. The email address Kabul@minbuza.nl was the only known way to get in touch with the Dutch government. “I really have no idea. This news hit me hard.”
Lawyer Barbara Wegelin, who assists a number of Afghan families trying to come to the Netherlands, fears that the consequences for closing the email address will be serious because they can no longer be helped. She also fears that the decision will lead to even more bureaucracy rather than quick help for Afghans in need.
According to the State Department, the email address is necessary, as the requests that are still coming in are becoming more unreliable. The now resigned demissionary ministers Kaag (Foreign Affairs) and Bijleveld (Defence) wrote last Wednesday together with Secretary of State Broekers-Knol (Asylum) that the requests for aid are often “flawed”. Moreover, the requests would not be easy to demonstrate the “relationship with the Netherlands and/or an acute, distressing situation”.
However, it was promised to include all emails received in a database, after which each request can be individually assessed whether someone can come to the Netherlands.
Wegelin does not reassure that: so far, the emails have not been answered or barely answered, which means that the straddles do not know if their help question has arrived at all. “Afghans I accompany have emailed many times since the start of evacuations, but they didn‘t get a single response, while they’re in panic, despair and agony.”
GroenLinks MP Laura Bromet calls it incomprehensible that the email address is taken offline. She filed a motion yesterday to keep the email address open, but it did not reach a majority. “It‘s a simple organizational issue that doesn’t cost much money, but VVD, CDA and D66 voted against.”
In Afghanistan last Wednesday, Kaag said that some 40,000 emails have been sent to the special address since mid-August. Foreign Affairs estimates that in reality it is about 23,000 people, because there are probably many of the same requests for help.
Attorney Wegelin can agree that. She wrote dozens of emails to the ministry alone. “The reason you‘re emailing again is because people have gone into hiding, their homes are being surrounded, or a threatening letter came in.” Every time she sent emails with urgent requests for help, but the emails remain unanswered.
She hopes that there will soon be clarity of what the Foreign Affairs will do with the unopened emails. However, Wegelin fears that the recent departure of Kaag and Bijleveld will cause more chaos and delay. “It’s a ship without a captain. Who is doing an alternative plan to pick up those people? That question needs to be answered very quickly.”
At the end of August, Wegelin told the CCeit what stories she all hears from Afghanistan:
Foreign Affairs says they remain committed to the stragglers. For that purpose, NATO allies and the UN refugee organisation UNHCR will be collaborated. A tricky side note is that Afghans can leave the country without a foreign passport only with the permission of the Taliban, which is not the case at the moment.
That is why it remains unclear for the time being how many people can leave the country, in which way and within what time frame.