Dutch evacuees reach Kabul airport, last flights out of Afghanistan ‘later today’

Kabul airport on Monday morning. Photo: AFP/Shakib Rahmani
Kabul airport on Monday morning. Photo: AFP/Shakib Rahmani

Three buses containing some 120 Dutch nationals have managed to enter Kabul airport after having been held up at the entrance for over 24 hours, the foreign ministry has confirmed to broadcaster NOS.

Seven people who did not have Dutch passports were ‘manhandled out of the bus’ by Taliban troops and did not make it into the airport, a source told  Nieuwsuur.

The current affairs programme spoke to a number of evacuees who said Taliban were present and had entered at least one of the buses.

Further evacuations are expected to become even more difficult when the United States pull out of the rescue operations. President Joe Biden has said the last Americans must be airlifted to safety by August 31.

The Taliban regime has told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, that evacuations will be allowed to continue after that date.

‘The question is whether they can be trusted to keep that promise and if they can guarantee the evacuations can take place safely,’ NOS correspondent Marieke de Vries said.

The Dutch have now joined American, British, Australian authorities in a call to citizens not to come to the airport but to ‘find a safe place and await further instructions there’. The foreign affairs ministry has since said in a briefing to MPs that the last flights out of Afghanistan will take place later on Thursday.

It is thought that British intelligence about an impending attack on the airport by the Afghan branch of Islamic State prompted the warning.

The Netherlands has evacuated some 1,200 people to date but hundreds of Dutch nationals and Afghans who worked for the Dutch armed forces are still waiting to get out.

Caretaker foreign minister Sigrid Kaag said on Wednesday that the completion of the Dutch rescue operation looks ‘unlikely’.

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