Dutch get 35 citizens out of Afghanistan after chaos holds up evacuations

Afghans waiting outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Aug 17, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - The Netherlands said it got 35 of its citizens and 20 other foreign nationals out of Afghanistan on Wednesday (Aug 18), in a slow start to its evacuation operation amid chaos outside Kabul airport.

A flight, which included 16 Belgians, two Germans and two British passport holders landed in Amsterdam late on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said on Twitter. It added that brought the total number of Dutch nationals evacuated to 50.

The Dutch aim to evacuate a total of 1,000 local embassy workers, translators and their families from Afghanistan following the seizure of the capital by Taleban insurgents.

An evacuation effort on Tuesday evening failed as a military plane operated by the Dutch and other nations left Kabul without anyone destined for the Netherlands aboard after US forces, struggling to control panicky crowds, denied Afghans access to the airport even if they had the correct credentials.

The situation seemed to have improved on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said in a debate in the Dutch parliament.

"We still get mixed messages, but Afghans now also seem to be allowed to reach the gates of the airport. We will now try to get local staff, translators and their families on Western military planes as soon as possible. The US allows this."

More than 2,200 diplomats and civilians have been evacuated from Afghanistan on military flights, a Western security official said on Wednesday.

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