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Belgium to deploy military jets to get citizens and activists out of Afghanistan

14:43 17/08/2021

Belgium will deploy at least four military jets to repatriate citizens and others living in Afghanistan. Following a quiet weekend when it came to requesting assistance, about 50 Belgian families in the country have since contacted authorities asking for help to leave.

Belgium will also assist translators and others who have worked with Belgium’s defence department in the past in getting out of the country. And it’s not stopping there: Human rights activists who are now in danger under the Taliban regime can also rely on Belgium to help them flee possible retribution.

“Human rights activists, women’s right activists and people who  have worked with NGOs and the United Nations” were among contacts being made by Belgians authorities for possible evacuation, public health minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) said in a radio interview this morning.

“There is no group that will feel the impact of the Taliban more than women,” Sammy Mahdi (CD&V) tweeted this morning, “So yes, I have explicitly asked that women’s rights activists be evacuated.”

Timing uncertain

As of publication, the jets had not yet left Belgium because of the chaotic situation on the ground in Afghanistan. A Dutch jet that arrived yesterday was not allowed to land at the airport in Kabul. Today, however, it was said that flights had resumed.

“We must have access to the airport and right now the situation there is chaotic,” said federal foreign minister Sophie Wilmès (MR). “But we will depart as soon as we possibly can.”

Foreign ministers from EU member state are scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and a single policy. “The EU must speak with one voice,” said Wilmès. “I also want to look at how we can collectively continue to help people there.”

Wilmès is not optimistic about the future of the country. “At this point in time, I have no reason to think that there will be any kind of positive evolution,” she said. “On the contrary, we are very worried about the situation there.”

 

Written by Lisa Bradshaw