Seventy Belgians and other authorised persons wanting to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban took power are being repatriated to the country in the coming days, with the first group of 34 arriving on Thursday, according to an announcement from the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence and the State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, whose services organised the operation.
After the coup last summer following the American withdrawal, Belgium organised an evacuation mission dubbed Red Kite. More than 1,400 people were successfully evacuated in the second half of August via an air bridge to Islamabad in Pakistan before the mission came to an end due to fears of attacks at Kabul airport.
The group of 70 people now in question had crossed the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan on 6 January and from there were taken to the capital, Islamabad. They are Belgian and Afghan nationals, mainly people who have worked for the Ministry of Defence and human rights defenders under Belgian protection.
While they didn’t have the necessary travel documents to leave Afghanistan, at the insistence of the Belgian Embassy in Islamabad and other Western embassies, the Pakistani government provided a temporary facilitation procedure.
People who were on evacuation lists of third countries, including Belgium, and who did not have the necessary travel documents, could still enter Pakistani territory.
A first group of 34 people arrived on Thursday on a commercial flight from Islamabad via Doha. The rest of the group will follow in the coming days. Three people will travel on to Luxembourg from Belgium.