Situation in Afghanistan: towards preventing a humanitarian tragedy

by Thorsten Koch

The Federal Cabinet decided on Friday to provide 100 million Euros in emergency aid for the benefit of the refugees who have arrived in neighboring countries from Afghanistan and those who will be arriving. As the Federal Foreign Office announced, further funds could be released later. Since the Taliban came to power, and in the face of the dramatic scenes that are taking place in Afghanistan, especially at Kabul Airport, hundreds of Germans who are in Afghanistan have reported to the Foreign Office. A middle three-digit number was on the Federal Foreign Office’s crisis list on Thursday. This does not include the embassy staff in Kabul, who were able to fly to Qatar from Monday to Tuesday.

The Bundeswehr used two helicopters for the first time this Saturday. Also on Saturday, the Afghan aviation authority called on people not to come to the airport.

A complicated operation

Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously spoken of a highly complicated rescue operation in the midst of a tragedy. Merkel expressed her “deep thanks” to the soldiers who are at the airport in Kabul and who are securing the coordinated action. She also thanked Afghanistan’s neighboring country, Uzbekistan, for allowing planes with Afghan refugees to land in Tashkent. As far as the situation in Afghanistan is concerned, Germany and the USA would like to continue to cooperate closely, as government spokesman Steffen Seibert said after a phone call between Merkel and US President Joe Biden.

Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer advocated for people particularly worthy of protection to be brought to Germany or an EU country and how local workers remaining in Afghanistan should be treated – women, for example . The Federal Ministry of the Interior had coordinated this with representatives of the Federal States, Seehofer added. The states are preparing to accept some groups of refugees. Especially those who worked for German aid organizations. A security check will be carried out after the entry of those affected, according to Seehofer.

EU to help neighboring countries

The G7 countries have called on the Taliban to guarantee the safety of all people waiting at the airport in Kabul to leave the country. According to agency reports, there are still thousands of people at the gates of the airport. Repeated gunshots could be heard, wrote the German Press Agency. Rescuing people who are particularly worthy of protection is therefore extremely difficult – also because some gates would be closed. In addition to the Bundeswehr, US soldiers and soldiers from other countries are at Kabul Airport. On Saturday around noon, a total of more than 1,800 people from Afghanistan had already been brought to Tashkent in transport aircraft.

EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell has announced that a dialogue must be initiated with the new rulers in Afghanistan in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. One of the demands that the EU will make is respect for human rights in the country, especially those of women, children and minorities. “The neighboring countries will certainly be confronted with further refugees, and we have already signaled to the United Nations that we are ready to help with the humanitarian care of these people,” said Borrell.

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