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First Belgians evacuated from Afghanistan arrive in Belgium

© Belga

A bus containing the first 34 Belgians airlifted out of Afghanistan arrived last night in a military barracks at Peutie by Vilvoorde.

The first refugees to arrive back had been transported to Schiphol in a Dutch military transport, before coming to Vilvoorde. They will now undergo a medical examination before their ultimate destination can be determined.

Each of the new arrivals has been checked in advance by Belgian authorities in Afghanistan, to ensure they have the right to be in Belgium, a spokesperson for migration minister Sammy Mahdi said.

On Friday and Saturday, another 108 Belgians, their families and others with the right to enter the country were airlifted out of the Afghan capital Kabul, probably to Islamabad in Pakistan, where they will now await transfer to flights to Belgium.

Meanwhile in Kabul, the chaos at the international airport increases, with Sky News reporting at least three and possibly seven deaths caused by crushing at the entrances. Reports say US troops, due to continue guarding access to the airport until 31 August, are trying to arrange alternative access routes to the airport, where entry points have now become unmanageable.

© Belga

Crowds of thousands, including small children, have been gathering at the airport for days now, in the hope of landing a place on one of the flights out of the country.

But places are reserved for nationals of the countries organising the flights, including Belgium, as well as dependents, those who have worked for the coalition forces and therefore face retaliation from the new rulers.

Belgium also takes care of Luxembourg nationals, by mutual agreement, while the Dutch air force lifted out Belgians when one of the Belgian flights could not embark because of the crush at the entrance to the airport.

The evacuation is expected to continue today, with another four flights from Kabul to Islamabad, while the government decides what to do with the Belgians who are now waiting in the Pakistani capital.

An arrangement has been reached with Air Belgium, which has placed an A340 aircraft at the government’s disposal, in addition to the military aircraft already deployed.