(B2) Catastrophe, nightmare… this is how Josep Borrell qualifies the situation for the Afghans. The priority is clear: succeed in evacuating those who have worked for the Union and its Member States. In the end, the operation was successful. All the Member States got involved, starting with Spain... and France. Everyone playing their part
The delegation's European staff, around a hundred people, was entirely evacuated from the start, with the exception of the German ambassador, Andreas von Brandt, who remained in the secure area of the airport (with a small team). For the evacuation of Afghan personnel, things are slower.
A moral duty
It's a " moral duty points out the High Representative before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, which met urgently on Thursday 19 August. He certainly recognizes that the task is not easy. " We do everything we can, believe us ". The Europeans will have to negotiate with the Taliban for this. A pragmatic position assumed by the Union (read: Europe ready to talk to the Taliban to manage the emergency. But sets its conditions).
A first target of 400 people
« For safety reasons “, the figure was made public only belatedly. The European Commission and the diplomatic service (EEAS) estimate that around 400 people must be evacuated. These are those who currently work for the EU, be it the delegation (= embassy), employees of DG ECHO (the Commission's Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid), and their families (but only in the first degree: wife/husband and children).
First reception in Spain, then relocations
Since the institutions do not have the power to allocate resettlement places or grant humanitarian visas, the Commission turned to the Member States. After a week of contacts, Spain offered to serve as a platform for first reception and file management, with the idea that the Afghans would then be relocated to other Member States. It still has to work, worries the High Representative. " Hopefully we won't show our differences again, and fight over who cares for these people. »
106 first arrivals in Europe
During the night of Wednesday to Thursday (August 19), a first flight, provided by the Spaniards, with 106 Afghans (employees and families) lands in Madrid. The number is limited. " That was not easy recognizes Josep Borrell. 300 others are still “ stranded in the streets of Kabul ". He points out the difficulties in locating people, and allowing them to arrive at the airport, then to enter it. But also the difficulties for secure a seat on some of the Member States' flights ».
EU staff back in Kabul
For " try to resolve the situation” of the remaining 300 people, every effort is required. Four officials were dispatched to Kabul. Among them, the special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson and a high-ranking (general) of the EU staff (according to our information), General Bart Laurent, director of operations. The presence of special forces from several countries (France, Germany in particular) makes it possible to unlock the device.
French special forces go into action
Monday, August 23, in the morning the French special forces, in liaison with the American army, were able to get 260 employees of the EU delegation in Kabul into the airport. They are welcomed in the waiting area of the French Embassy before boarding. Kudos to the EU. ", tweets David Martinon, French Ambassador to Afghanistan. On the same is the international treasure , the Union's ambassador in Kabul, Andreas von Brandt, said to himself " very grateful and relieved ».
Extend to EUPOL staff?
Beyond the current workers, the European Commission wants to broaden its action. To also evacuate those who have worked for her over the past 20 years. This includes in particular those who cooperated with the Afghan Police Support and Training Mission (EUPOL Afghanistan) which operated between 2007 and 2016 under the CSDP. The number could increase further by including the “ human rights defenders, women activists and representatives of civil society who are at risk for defending our values explains the High Representative. No estimate is made as to how many people this might represent. Too politically sensitive for the Europeans or the Afghans...
(Lenor Hubaut, with NGV and AF.st)
- Afghanistan: NATO makes a first (small) mea culpa
- Afghanistan on the Gymnich agenda. Strategic compass and operations on the informal defense agenda
Updated 31.08 with the name of the general sent to Kabul (became public)