Almost all roads were closed to Afghans on the Dutch evacuation list
It is nearly impossible for most Afghans on the Dutch evacuation list to actually reach the Netherlands. This is evidenced by emails from the Dutch Foreign Ministry to Afghans, seen by NOS. It is estimated that 1,500 Afghans still behind are eligible for evacuation to the Netherlands.
The last route that relatively many Afghans use is the overland route to the Dutch embassy in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. That embassy informed a number of Afghans by email that they could no longer help if people entered Pakistan illegally. Many Afghans who travel overland from Afghanistan to Pakistan to be evacuated do so without the required paperwork.
Evacuation flights to Pakistan and Qatar have also been suspended for a month and a half and there is no concrete prospect of their resumption. Afghans have also informed Dutch embassies in Iran and Turkey in recent months, but in much smaller numbers.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms that emails have been sent stating that the Dutch Embassy in Pakistan is no longer able to assist many Afghans. According to the ministry, this has become impossible as Pakistan no longer allows Afghans to leave Pakistan without a valid Pakistani visa.
For example, many interpreters and other personnel who worked in the Dutch army have never had a passport and it is difficult to apply for new passports from the Taliban regime. For those who have a passport, applying for a Pakistani visa is costly. Translators left behind and contacted by NOS say visas are also hard to come by.
On Wednesday, 11 Afghans from Pakistan arrived in Leipzig, Germany. Their final destination is the Netherlands. It was the first group from Afghanistan over a month ago to come to the Netherlands via Pakistan. According to the ministry, these Afghans already have Pakistani passports and visas.
The largest group of Afghans to date was evacuated by air, but those flights were also halted. Most of the evacuees traveled to Qatar first, but the last trip to that country was on December 6. The air route to Pakistan has been closed for some time.
Explore alternate routes
In early January, a lawyer on behalf of the Dutch government said he expected a group of Afghans to be evacuated to the Netherlands within a month. The State Department now tells NOS that research is currently being conducted in alternative methods, but which methods remain unclear.
The former foreign minister, Ben Knaben, also wrote to the House of Representatives that people eligible for evacuation can knock on the doors of Dutch embassies. This policy is still in place, but in reality it is no longer feasible for people who do not have a passport due to the aggravating Pakistani conditions.
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