Belgium ends evacuations in Kabul

As part of Operation “Red Kite”, Belgian military planes evacuated around 1,100 people from Afghanistan between Friday and Tuesday eveningFor the Belgians, it is the end of the “Red Kite” operation. As the August 31 deadline approaches marking the withdrawal of US troops securing the site, Belgium announced Wednesday evening that it had ended its evacuation operations from Kabul airport. The federal government made the decision “in view of the development of the situation in Afghanistan,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Twitter. It was also taken “in agreement with the European partners” of Brussels.

The EU called on the United States on Tuesday to secure the airport “as long as necessary”, beyond the 31 August, in order to be able to exfiltrate more people deemed to be in danger after the Taliban took power. The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell had indeed judged Saturday “impossible” to evacuate all the Afghan collaborators of the Western powers and their families before this deadline. But Washington refused to extend any further.

Evacuations via Pakistan

Between Friday and Tuesday evening, Belgian military planes evacuated via Islamabad in Pakistan some 1,100 people from Kabul, also many European nationals and Afghan personnel in danger, as well as their families. The last five flights between Kabul and Islamabad took place on Wednesday, and since 9:30 p.m., “all the personnel of Operation Red Kite and the evacuees have gathered in Islamabad,” said Alexander De Croo.

Planes carrying exfiltrated people have been landing since Monday morning at the military base of Melsbroek, near Brussels. Among the passengers are Belgians and Afghans, but also nationals of the Netherlands and Denmark or refugees seeking asylum in these countries, as well as in Luxembourg.