The Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have sent armed units into the Afghanistan capital to help carry out evacuations and escort civilians to Kabul airport. So far, the Netherlands has aided in the evacuation of over 1.000 people.
Dutch military rushes to meet Taliban evacuation deadline
Earlier this week, the Taliban – who took control of the capital a little over a week ago – announced that no extension would be granted to the evacuation deadline of August 31. This means foreign troops will no longer have control of the local airport after the end of the month, and has left countries around the world rushing to arrange as many evacuations as possible.
The Dutch government has now confirmed the use of special armed forces in Kabul to aid in evacuations. In a letter to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), the cabinet wrote that the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs were “doing everything possible” to carry out said evacuations, and said the 90 soldiers stationed in the Afghan capital were in a race against the clock.
While the US military currently has control of the local airport, President Joe Biden has emphasised that the country needs more time to evacuate approximately 6.000 Americans who are still in the country. Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday that all allies “need extra time,” and highlighted the role the Netherlands would play in helping to evacuate as many people as possible.
Over 1.000 people already evacuated from Afghanistan
Since evacuation attempts commenced last week, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the departure of over a dozen flights from Kabul, two of which are expected to arrive at Schiphol Airport on Wednesday afternoon. So far, the Netherlands has evacuated over 1.000 people, but it is estimated that hundreds more Dutch citizens and Afghan nationals are awaiting evacuation.
Caecilia Wijgers, the Dutch ambassador to Afghanistan, confirmed on Monday that the Netherlands was working to evacuate as many as possible, “not just the Dutch, but also the interpreters and people who worked with us in the field of human rights, for example, and who are now at risk.” However, Kaag has said there is “a great certainty” that not everyone will be evacuated in time.
Hundreds of Afghan refugees arrive in the Netherlands
On Monday, the first evacuees arrived at the refugee camp in the village of Huis ter Heide in the municipality of Zeist (near Utrecht). A second camp in the northern village of Zoutkamp is already full, currently housing almost 500 Afghan evacuees. Officials have also set up a third base at De Harskamp, a military base near Arnhem.
On Tuesday evening, Dutch police were forced to intervene after protests were held outside De Harskamp. 250 local residents demonstrated against the arrival of hundreds of Afghan refugees. Around 800 refugees are expected to arrive at De Harskamp over the coming days.