Belgium ends evacuations in Kabul

For the Belgians, it is the end of the “Red Kite” operation. As the August 31 deadline approaches marking the withdrawal of American troops securing the site, Belgium announced Wednesday evening that it had ended its evacuation operations from Kabul airport. The federal government took this decision “in view of the development of the situation in Afghanistan,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Twitter. It was also taken “in agreement with the European partners” from Brussels.

The EU called on the United States on Tuesday to secure the airport “as long as necessary”, beyond August 31, in order to be able to exfiltrate more people deemed to be in danger after the Taliban took power. The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell had indeed judged Saturday “impossible” to evacuate all the Afghan collaborators of the Western powers and their families before this deadline. But Washington refused to extend it.

Evacuations via Pakistan

Between Friday and Tuesday evening, Belgian military planes evacuated via Islamabad in Pakistan some 1,100 people from Kabul, both European nationals and Afghan personnel in danger, as well as their families. The last five flights between Kabul and Islamabad took place this Wednesday, and since 9:30 pm, “all the personnel of the operation” Red Kite “and the evacuees are gathered in Islamabad”, specified Alexander De Croo.

Planes carrying exfiltrated people have been landing since Monday morning at the military base in Melsbroek, near Brussels. Among the passengers are Belgians and Afghans, but also nationals of the Netherlands and Denmark or refugees seeking asylum in these countries, as well as in Luxembourg.

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