The Netherlands pulls out all the stops for evacuations from Kabul

The Netherlands is doing all it can to facilitate the evacuation of people from Afghanistan. Various steps have been taken to this end in recent days, but the security situation in Kabul is fragile.

Until last week, it was still possible for people to come to the Netherlands via civil aviation. After two planned charter flights were cancelled because it was not safe enough for them to land, military transport was chosen instead.

The Ministry of Defence is currently planning several military flights. Yesterday, two C-17 transport aircraft were deployed from the Heavy Airlift Wing in Pápa, Hungary. Together with other NATO countries, the Netherlands can call on this strategic transport capacity. The first plane could not land yesterday. Permission to land was postponed because local priority was given to flying in additional security.

A second C-17 transport plane landed at Kabul International Airport this evening. The plane has now taken off with about 40 passengers on board. As far as is known, no Dutch or Afghan citizens are on board.

New embassy team and military security on the way

This morning, a KDC-10 transport aircraft left from Eindhoven Air Base for Kabul via a stopover in the region. On board are the Dutch ambassador, a consular emergency team and 62 military personnel providing force protection. They are proceeding as quickly as possible, under the leadership of the ambassador, to the airport in Kabul to facilitate the evacuations. They are expected to be able to start work at the airport tomorrow afternoon.

A C130 transport aircraft also departed this morning from Eindhoven Air Base towards a country in the region, with a stopover en route. This aircraft has been deployed together with another C130 that is already in the region to form an air bridge between Kabul International Airport and a safe country in the region.

An Airbus A330 aircraft of the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Capability (MRTT) is expected to depart from Eindhoven for the region tomorrow. The aircraft will be carrying some doctors and nurses from the Ministry of Defence in order to provide basic medical care to evacuees at the reception location in the region. The MRTT aircraft can then be used for return flights from the reception location in the region to the Netherlands.

Airport situation

The situation at the airport is confusing and very unstable. US military personnel have taken over the security and coordination of the flights. The expectation is that the Dutch flights will be able to land this week, but the situation may change daily. At the moment, it is difficult to allow Afghans from outside the airport access to the airport. They are now being denied access by the Americans for security reasons. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence are working hard to get clarity on when the intended evacuees can enter the airport.

Reception location in the Netherlands

In the meantime, the Ministry of Justice and Security has made preparations for the arrival of Afghans in the Netherlands. Defence is supporting this by providing a reception location at the Willem Lodewijk van Nassau Barracks in the Marnewaard.