AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Netherlands will increase its military presence in Afghanistan to help with efforts to evacuate people from the country, the Dutch defence ministry said on Sunday.
An unspecified number of troops will be sent to help the 62 Dutch special forces already at Kabul airport to secure airplanes, protect people trying to flee Afghanistan and help embassy staff.
The Dutch government said earlier its entire local embassy staff of 207 and their families had left Afghanistan and were on their way to the Netherlands, after they had been unable to reach the airport for days due to the chaos outside the gates.
There are still over 700 Dutch citizens in Afghanistan waiting to be evacuated, Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said on Friday, while numerous Afghans could be eligible for asylum in the Netherlands if they manage to get there.
The Dutch are running flights with two C-130 military planes and are in the process of evacuating a group of around 1,000 Afghans, including those who worked for the Netherlands as translators, and their families.
Responding to demands in parliament, the government last week said it would also try to evacuate Afghans whose lives may be threatened because of their ties to Dutch media or aid missions in the country.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Giles Elgood)