Western countries criticized for abandoning Afghan personnel

by Sami Burgaz
As Taliban gained control of Kabul, Western countries fled swiftly, leaving thousands of Afghan personnel behind.

LONDON (AA) – Western countries, particularly the Netherlands, Sweden, France, and the UK, have been criticized for failing to evacuate the Afghans who worked for them in Kabul, according to media reports.

The NRC daily of the Netherlands reported that the Afghan employees operating in the embassy were shocked on Aug. 15, Sunday, when they saw the Dutch personnel had left the building without a word.

The report noted that the Dutch personnel left the embassy discreetly and 37 Afghan employees found their seats empty.

The Swedish media outlets said that while their 19 nationals in Sweden’s Embassy in Kabul were transferred to the US military base in the Qatari capital Doha via helicopter and plane on Monday, the local Afghan employees were abandoned.

Responding to a question on when these Afghans would be taken out of Kabul, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said at a news conference on Monday that there was chaos in the airport.

Also, the Swedish personnel reportedly blocked even the corporate e-mail accounts of these Afghans and did not answer their phones.

In an e-mail message, a group of local Afghan employees earlier notified Sweden’s Expressen daily that they were abandoned by their Swedish colleagues.

According to the message, the Afghans called on the daily to be their voice as their lives were in danger and urged the Swedish government to abandon its bureaucratic process and put their lives before the laws.

The group alleged that the Taliban were searching house by house to find those employed by foreign embassies and their families.

Petition in France

A signing petition was started on change.org to make the French Embassy in Kabul rescue 60 interpreter employees who were working for the French army or possessed employment contracts.

An Afghan journalist, Mortaza Behboudi, said at a French TV that Paris abandoned the translators who helped them in Kabul, adding: “They were not on the evacuation list of the French Embassy in Kabul. Locked in their homes, they are hiding away.”

UK criticized for slow response

The UK, for its part, is criticized for being late to evacuate the Afghans who worked for the British forces and personnel in the country.

Charlie Herbert, a former senior NATO adviser to the Afghan Interior Ministry, was critical of London, saying the government was not swift enough to ensure the safety of the Afghans and evacuate them.

Herbert, also a former military commander, said he had sent letters to the British secretaries about three-and-a-half weeks ago, saying the Afghan translators should be immediately taken out of the country and relocated to the UK, but the letter was overlooked.

Noting that several young translators and their families were hiding, he further said it was now not possible to evacuate these people.

‘Images of desperation’ shameful for political West

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the events unfolding at the Kabul airport were shameful and his country should evacuate the Afghans who extended help to German authorities in Afghanistan.

The images of desperation at the Kabul airport are shameful for the political West,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference in Berlin.

Germany is also criticized for taking the army’s stock of beer and wine out of Afghanistan in June, but left the Afghan nationals alone in the country where the Taliban gained control.

The Bild daily reported that the planes had room for alcoholic drinks but no capacity for local Afghan personnel, reminding that Germany brought back 65,000 cans of beer and 340 bottles of wine earlier in June, questioning if the drinks were of more value than the local Afghan personnel or not.

Australia says cannot help all Afghan personnel

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government would not be able to help all Afghans, who assisted their military units, after the Taliban entered capital Kabul.

Noting that the government was committed to supporting those who provided service and assistance to the Australian Defense Force but this support would not reach all of the Afghans, he said Australia would continue to help the local Afghans that stood by the Australian force.

“On-the-ground events have overtaken many efforts. We wish it were different,” he said.

Taliban gaining control over Afghanistan

As part of a peace deal reached in February 2020 between the US and the Taliban, the international forces have begun their withdrawal process this year.

The agreement mandated that the Taliban not target foreign forces, but there was no provision regarding its action towards the Afghan security forces.

While keeping negotiations with the government going in Qatar’s Doha, the Taliban has intensified its attacks since June, taking control of many districts and province centers in the past month.

The Taliban took the capital Kabul, which was already besieged, under its control on Sunday when President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan.


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