Takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Fear of the Helpers | free press

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Given the dramatic developments in Afghanistan, the German government is defending itself against accusations that it started evacuating local workers who are at risk far too late. A spokesman for Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said on Monday in Berlin that the relevant procedures are being worked on for months. “That’s right…

Given the dramatic developments in Afghanistan, the German government is defending itself against accusations that it started evacuating local workers who are at risk far too late. A spokesman for Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said on Monday in Berlin that the relevant procedures are being worked on for months. “It is true that our assessment of how the situation will develop was wrong.” Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said it is now important to fly as many Afghan aid workers as possible from Kabul. There will come a time when the entire mission in Afghanistan must be judged politically. “Today is not the day before.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to the CDU’s federal executive committee that Germany wanted to evacuate about 10,000 people from Afghanistan. It is about the locals who have worked in recent years as interpreters or drivers for the German armed forces, German authorities or civil organizations, as well as their relatives. Merkel also said people such as lawyers or human rights activists should leave the country. German media are calling on the federal government to rescue their Afghan workers as well.

After the radical Islamic Taliban came to power, the former helpers must reckon with revenge attacks and fear for their lives. Only those currently in Kabul should have a real chance of rescue – but hardly those remaining in the area around the former army camps in Kunduz and Mazar-i-Sharif in the north.

The Bundeswehr, along with troops from other NATO countries, began the withdrawal from Afghanistan in early May and completed it at the end of June. The question of how to bring former local personnel to safety after the Bundeswehr has been withdrawn has been discussed in this country for years.

In July there was another open disagreement between the defense and interior ministries, both led by the Union. Until recently, visa issuance was slow and extremely bureaucratic – much to the dismay of Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU). Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) insisted that each local employee be subject to an individual security check. Each applicant must explain why they are at risk. Once a visa has been issued, the affected individuals and their families have to arrange and pay for airline tickets themselves – a huge hurdle in the poor country.

Initially, only helpers would be eligible to apply if they had not worked for German positions more than two years ago. The Bundeswehr was in Afghanistan for 20 years. Until shortly before the Taliban finally came to power, some 1,800 Afghans were able to enter Germany with a visa. SPD faction leader Rolf M├╝tzenich now said in view of the current situation that there should be no more bureaucratic barriers for local staff. “Too much time has been lost in recent weeks. That was a mistake.” Foreign FDP politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff accused the three ministers involved of having “failed across the board” in the evacuations. Green chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock said: “Before the summer recess, we had submitted an application to the German Bundestag to evacuate people. That has not happened, it was simply refused.” Baerbock was referring to a request from her faction in the second week of April asking the federal government to generously accept Afghan local personnel and their relatives. In a vote in parliament on June 23, a large majority of the Union, SPD and AfD rejected the application. The Greens and Left voted in favour, the FDP abstained.

The CDU foreign politician Roderich Kiesewetter wrote self-critically on Twitter on Sunday evening after the fall of Kabul: “It was a big and serious mistake to reject the proposal of the Greens in principle. Period.”

According to Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU), the Bundeswehr will continue its evacuation mission in Afghanistan for as long as possible. Ultimately, what matters is that the Bundeswehr, together with international partners, can maintain the airlift for as long as possible, “to get as many people out as possible,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said Monday after meetings of the top CDU bodies. She didn’t want to commit to exact numbers for the people who needed to be saved. “The number is difficult to quantify at the moment. It fluctuates.”

The mandate for the deployment of the Federal Armed Forces is to be determined at this Wednesday’s cabinet meeting. The Bundestag should discuss and decide on this next week. Anyway, on August 25, the parliament will hold a special session to decide on aid to the flood plains. Then the eviction operation must also be on the agenda. (with dpa)