The Netherlands sends plane to Afghanistan to collect Dutch diplomats
After the Taliban claimed Kabul and declared victory in Afghanistan over the weekend, the Dutch government announced plans to send a military aircraft to collect Dutch diplomats and their families. The Ministry of Defence says interpreters who are known to have cooperated with the Netherlands in the past are also set to be evacuated.
Taliban declares victory in Afghanistan
The Taliban took power in Afghanistan over the weekend, moving into the capital city of Kabul on Sunday. President Ashraf Ghani fled to Tajikistan on Sunday afternoon, as militants closed in on the presidential palace before reaching it on Sunday evening. The Taliban say they are preparing to declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the situation "very unclear and very worrying."
After seizing power on Sunday, all foreigners in the capital were informed that they were required to vacate the city over the coming days or be forced to register themselves with the Taliban.
The local airport has remained open as thousands attempt to flee the country, and the US military currently has control of Kabul airport, but the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority has called on airlines to avoid Afghan airspace due to a lack of air traffic controllers. Hundreds of commercial flights have been cancelled as a result of chaos at Kabul airport, and Reuters reports at least five people have died. The cause of death remains unknown.
Dutch citizens evacuated from Kabul
On Sunday, the Dutch Ministry of Defence confirmed that all diplomats, embassy staff and family members stationed in Kabul were to be evacuated. All interpreters who qualify for asylum in the Netherlands are also expected to be evacuated. In order to ensure the safety of those still in Kabul, the Ministry refused to provide any details about the evacuation.
The Dutch embassy has already been moved to a location near Kabul airport, and the Minister for Defence, Ank Bijleveld, told NOS on Sunday evening that all staff members were safe and continue to work from the new location. Rutte emphasised the Netherlands was "doing everything it can" to evacuate staff members and interpreters, but didn't comment on the status of the repatriation mission.
On Monday morning, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Ukraine tweeted that Ukrainian aircraft stationed in Afghanistan had evacuated citizens of Ukraine, as well as Dutch citizens and citizens of Croatia, Belarus, and Afghanistan. “They’re safe now,” Dmytro Kuleba wrote. “We don’t abandon our people and help others.” A spokesperson for the Dutch Ministry of Defence said they could not confirm Kuleba’s message.