Ministers admit 22 interpreters left in Kabul, ahead of debate with MPs

in their briefing, Volkskrant

Destroyed tanks, abandoned in a field in Afghanistan. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Some 22 Afghans who worked as interpreters for the Dutch in Afghanistan have been left behind, but officials are in contact with some of them, ministers told MPs ahead of Wednesday’s debate on the issue.

In total, 436 interpreters, their families and other Afghan nationals on the evacuation list have been brought to the Netherlands, ministers said in their briefing.

According to the Volkskrant, the Dutch embassy in Kabul had been asking officials to prepare for an evacuation for several months, but it was not until two days before the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban that any action was undertaken.

The paper bases its claims on email traffic between the embassy and the cabinet.

The embassy provided 60 names of people whom it said should be brought out, but was told shortly before the evacuation started that it could only bring out three. The ambassador refused to choose which three it should be, the paper said.

The emails also show that France had offered to take out some people but that foreign minister Sigrid Kaag was not made aware of this option.

Motion

Last month MPs voted in favour of a motion calling on the government to bring out everyone who worked for the Dutch, including cooks, drivers and security guards.

Ministers said at the time they would carry out the motion fully. This is now happening ‘within the confines of the current situation in Afghanistan,’ Kaag, defence minister Ank Bijleveld and immigration minister Ankie Broekers-Knol said in their briefing to MPs.

However, Labour MP Kati Piri, who has been a staunch campaigner for the interpreters, said that while other countries were still committed to bringing out everyone with the right to be evacuated, the Netherlands seems to have concluded already that it would be ‘too many’.

Ministers said last week that 23,000 emails had been sent to a special address set up for Afghans who needed help. However, as yet, officials have no idea how many duplicate applications or how many people who actually worked for the Dutch are involved.

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