The Netherlands underperformed in evacuating Afghan translators and guards | Currently

The Netherlands underperformed in evacuating Afghan translators and guards |  Currently

The Netherlands has performed poorly in evacuating Afghans compared to other NATO countries such as Canada and the United States. This is evidenced by research by Dutch scientist Sarah de Jong, who works at York University, UK. “The Dutch government assumes the mistrust of the Afghans,” de Jong told NU.nl.

In the report published on Wednesday, de Jong compares the different ways in which eight NATO countries have dealt with the refugee crisis in Afghanistan, where the Taliban unexpectedly seized power in August 2021. Thousands of Afghans then tried to leave the country, resulting in a situation of Chaos at Kabul airport. Among them were many Afghans who took part in the NATO mission in the country or worked in embassies.

The report shows that NATO countries have not harmonized their policies towards former Afghan employees. As a result, Afghans who were equally at risk were treated differently by each country.

The Netherlands does not do well compared to other countries. According to de Jong, the evacuations began only late, and only with interpreters who met strict criteria. For a long time it was not clear to these translators and their families where to report. They also had to prove their identity, which has turned into a huge bureaucratic hurdle for many, while they have often been known to the Department of Defense for years.

De Jong’s report follows a preliminary assessment by Leiden University, which was published in January. This proved that the pace in the Dutch government “has not been high for a long time” and that the process at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has “started a bit”.

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In February, the Cabinet appointed a commission to investigate the chaotic evictions. The results will be presented to the House of Representatives by May 2023 at the latest.

The Netherlands has set up an unnecessary bureaucratic mill

According to De Jong, Dutch policy has been characterized from the start by a mistrust of applicants for residence permits. According to her, an unnecessarily complex bureaucratic mill was set up in the Netherlands, where the Afghan translator was not centralized and the IND staff acted as “gatekeepers who would hardly let anyone pass.”

The bureaucratic attitude of the Dutch authorities towards interpreters prior to the fall of Kabul made evacuations unnecessarily difficult. “Before August 2021, it was safer, easier and cheaper to get passports,” she says.

De Jong also criticizes the fact that the Netherlands did not allow Afghans, who often worked for years for the Dutch army or the Dutch government, to take more family members (such as parents or unmarried sisters, who often lived at home) with them. A country like Canada has taken a much broader policy in this regard. In addition, countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia immediately grant permanent residence permits to their former employees. This way people are certain of the future, while initially the Netherlands issues a five-year residence permit.

Among the big mistakes made by the Dutch government, according to De Jong, is closing the possibility of applying by email to be transferred to the Netherlands. She describes this “panic reaction” that makes it impossible for Afghans who have worked for years in Dutch organizations or the Dutch government and who are still in Afghanistan to be evacuated.

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‘Allowing Afghans who have not yet been able to report’

“Now it seems to be under control,” de Jong says. “The House of Representatives is receiving ordered tables showing how many applicants have already been transferred and how many are still in Afghanistan.” “But this is a false certainty.”

“In fact, many Afghans are still entitled to eviction according to the original proposal of D66 MP Salima Belhaj, but they can no longer show their desire to evict. This mistake must be compensated for. Compared to people who have advocated Dutch language and Western ideals for years and are now in a difficult position.”

De Jong also hopes that the Netherlands will continue to warmly welcome Afghans. She wonders why Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not visit Afghan translators and guards and why a 31-year-old former translator’s application for a scholarship was rejected because the age limit for this scholarship is 30 years. “Have they not worked for years to guide the Dutch army in Afghanistan through unsafe situations?”

Refer to a country such as the United Kingdom, where the government campaign warm welcome And the British Ministry of Defense has begun detailing the campaign as well New hopesomething that did not start in the Netherlands.

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