The Netherlands plans to keep its embassy in Kabul open for ‘as long as possible’, despite the rise of the Taliban following the pull out of peace keeping forces, broadcaster NOS reported on Friday.
Britain and the US are deploying a large number of soldiers in Afghanistan to bring home non-essential embassy staff but, defence minister Ank Bijleveld told NOS, Dutch embassy personnel are needed on the ground to assess asylum requests made by Afghan interpreters and other local personnel.
‘We are doing our best to get them here with every flight we can find,’ she is quoted as saying. ‘We are talking about dozens.’
The Netherlands has been heavily criticized for failing to quickly evacuate interpreters and others who worked closely with Dutch soldiers during their time in Afghanistan.
According to the Volkskrant, defense ministry officials said earlier this week that granting asylum to people other than interpreters – such as security guards and people who worked for NGOs – could lead to an ‘uncontrollable increase in the number of applications’ because this concerns a ‘very large’ group of people.
The rise of the Taliban, which has now overrun large swathes of the country, is no reason to again involve the Dutch armed forces, Bijleveld said. ‘You really need the Americans. And we worked a lot with the Germans, but I don’t see that happening at the moment.’
The cabinet, she said, believes the solution to the conflict lies at the negotiating table.
Nevertheless, the input of Dutch soldiers for the past 20 years has not been for nothing, she said. ‘We have trained and educated people and helped to build up the country again,’ she said. ‘But the situation is serious, and that has an impact on everyone in the military.’
Although junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol has imposed a six month moratorium on deporting failed asylum seekers back to Afghanistan, she has signed a document calling on the EU not to suspend a special deal with Kabul on returning refugees.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation