The Netherlands ends evacuations in Afghanistan amid security concerns
On Thursday evening, the final Dutch evacuation flight departed from Kabul Airport, bringing the Netherlands’ operation to an end, five days before the deadline set by the Taliban.
The Netherlands brings Afghanistan evacuations to an end
According to the Dutch government, the country has been able to safely evacuate over 2.500 people, 1.600 of which were headed to the Netherlands. It is unclear how many Dutch citizens remain in Afghanistan, but according to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, it is a “significant number.”
Talking to the press on Thursday, Rutte said it was “terrible news” that the Netherlands was forced to bring evacuations to an end, taking responsibility for mistakes that allowed Afghanistan to fall into the hands of the Taliban: “We blame ourselves for making the wrong assessment of the situation on the spot.”
Taking to Twitter, Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said it was with a “heavy heart” that Dutch ambassadors and military forces were compelled to leave on Thursday. “We sympathise with the people who are not yet safe," Kaag wrote. "Our departure will have far-reaching consequences for them."
Dutch government pledges millions in humanitarian aid
The Prime Minister cited the threat of terrorism as a reason for bringing the evacuation attempts to an end. "The situation has worsened in recent hours," Rutte explained on Thursday. In a press release, the cabinet explained that, over the past few days, evacuations had been carried out “relentlessly, under increasingly difficult circumstances.”
The gates to Kabul Airport were closed on August 26 amid security concerns, after at least 70 people were killed in two suicide bombings in the Afghan capital. While no Dutch were harmed in the attack, at least 13 American military personnel were killed. Many of the victims were Afghan civilians and children.
Under the directions of the US military, other countries, including Germany and Belgium, have also brought their evacuations to an end. The Dutch government has said it will continue to attempt to help those who are eligible for evacuation and remain in Afghanistan. The cabinet says it wants to continue to offer support to the Afghan population, and the Netherlands has already pledged 10 million euros in humanitarian aid for the country.