BRUSSELS, (The Southern African Times) – More European countries said on Monday that they were evacuating embassy staff and nationals from Afghanistan following the latest developments in the Asian country.
Denmark and Norway, which have announced the temporary closure of their respective embassies in Afghanistan, described “working under extreme conditions” as they tried to evacuate their citizens and local employees there.
Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said Denmark “is far from finished” with the evacuation of Danish and Afghan employees from its embassy in Kabul. He said Pakistan is assisting with the Danish evacuations from the Afghan capital.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said Monday that her country “is doing everything possible” to get Norwegians and local employees evacuated.
“It’s chaotic and catastrophic. We had all hoped that we could do this under more orderly conditions than what is happening right now,” Solberg told Norwegian news agency NTB.
Later on the day, the Norwegian Chief of Defence Eirik Kristoffersen confirmed to the Norwegian newspaper VG that Norway has completed the evacuation of all Norwegian employees at its embassy in Kabul.
Finland on Monday announced the closure of its embassy in Kabul. The government said 18 Finnish people, including diplomats and embassy staff, have left the Afghan capital by the afternoon.
The Belgian government also approved a defense evacuation operation. Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes said some 100 people claiming their Belgian nationality have reported to the Belgian embassy in Pakistan — also responsible for Afghanistan — wishing to return to Belgium.
In Italy, the first flight evacuating Italian diplomatic staff along with some Afghan citizens arrived in Rome on Monday. A military KC 767 airplane landed at the Fiumicino airport with some 70 people on board, the Defence Ministry said.
The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said Monday that eight Croatian nationals have been evacuated from Afghanistan and others will be repatriated in the coming days. Germany also evacuated on the day dozens of embassy staff to Qatar’s capital city of Doha.
Meanwhile, the European Commission foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he decided to convene on Tuesday an extraordinary video teleconference of European Union foreign ministers.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday called for “a responsible and united response” within the United Nations Security Council on Afghanistan, and warned against the risk of irregular migration flows to Europe caused by the destabilization of Afghanistan.
For the present, he said, the absolute urgency for France is to bring back its nationals and Afghans who worked for France. Two military planes and French special forces will be sent to Afghanistan for evacuation operations in the next few hours, Macron added.
The Taliban said on Sunday that the war in Afghanistan has ended, and they will soon declare the establishment of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and take responsible actions to ensure the safety of Afghan citizens.
On Monday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admitted that the speed of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan came as a surprise to the UK government.
“Everyone, I think, has been surprised by the scale and the pace at which the Taliban have taken over in Afghanistan,” Raab said after attending an emergency meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that the U.S. decision to pull out of Afghanistan has “accelerated things.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said the international deployment in Afghanistan during the last 20 years was disappointing.
The campaign against terrorism is “not successful and has not completed as we have anticipated,” Merkel said at a press conference. She admitted that the efforts to bring democracy and peace in Afghanistan have failed, therefore lessons should be drawn.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto also said in a statement that the fact that Afghanistan ended up fast into the hands of the Taliban indicates that western countries did not succeed in their aims to build democratic administration and society in Afghanistan.
“Perhaps, unavoidably, the lesson from this remains that it is fairly difficult to export a totally different societal structure and thinking,” he said.