The first cohorts of Dutch citizens and Afghan translators have arrived back in the Netherlands following successful evacuation missions from Kabul, Afghanistan.
The first evacuees from Afghanistan arrived on Friday night at the Willem Lodewijk van Nassaukazerne, a Dutch military base in Zoutkamp, Groningen Province. A Dutch military A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) returned 180 passengers, of which many were dutch or Afghan translators and their families. This comes after a failed mission involving a C-17 aircraft carrying just 35 passengers on the 18th of August.
Dutch rescue operations got off to a slow start after the chaos and tragic scenes at Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport earlier this week. It’s thought that Dutch military planes were unable to land at the airport given the density of evacuation missions from around the world and desperate citizens running onto the airport tarmac in an effort to flee Taliban occupied Kabul. However, more problems followed suit after one of the two C-130 Hercules transport planes incurred mechanical issues during a pickup mission. The ministry of defence has organised repairs for the fallen C-130 and are relying on additional support from international allies to replenish the loss in rescue capacity.
The Netherlands Have Confirmed That Several Planes Have Successfully Departed Kabul
From August the 18th, the Netherlands have been running planes in and out of Kabul in an effort to evacuate up to 1000 dutch citizens and international aides such as translators, journalists, security, cooks and drivers. Among those rescued, the Netherlands military has prioritised rescuing anyone who has previously been involved in women’s rights campaigns. The Ministry of Defence says there are currently 111 Afghan interpreters with their families in the Netherlands in Afghanistan.
The Netherlands Are Using Neighbouring Countries To Land Aircraft And Distribute Passengers
The Dutch MOD has set up an “air bridge” between Kabul and a neighbouring region to land planes and better distribute evacuees to other aircraft. It has been mentioned on more than one occasion that Kabul airport’s turnaround times leave no room for error given the frequency of planes attempting to land at the airport. This chaotic situation means that planes have to get in and out, and there’s no time to organise people during the rescue effort. The Defence Minister has released a list of dutch military plane movements from Kabul airport to surrounding regions since the 18th.
- August 20: A C-130 carrying 70 passengers.
- August 20: A C-130 carrying 53 people, this includes one confirmed Dutch citizen.
- August 19: A C-130 carrying an estimated 50 passengers.
- August 19: A C-130 carrying 79 people, including nine confirmed Dutch citizens.
- August 18: A C-17 carrying 35 Dutch, Belgian, British and German passport holders.