Belgian military plane leaves for Islamabad
A first Belgian military plane has left Melsbroek Airbase in Flemish Brabant for the Pakistani capital Islamabad aboard is a team of consular staff and others that will made the preparations for the evacuation of Belgian nationals, Afghans that worked for the Belgian military as interpreters or fixers and human rights activists. The plane took off at around 4pm.
The larger transport planes that will carry out the evacuation itself will be leaving “in the next few hours” the Federal Government said in a press release. Around 15 Belgian military personnel will be aboard the planes.
The Falcon 7X with diplomats and a preparatory team on board is flying to Islamabad where the Belgian Embassy is monitoring the situation in Afghanistan.
It will be followed later this evening by two C-130 and 1 A400 M transport planes. These too will first fly to Islamabad from where they will fly several times to and from Kabul to ferry evacuees to safety. How many times they will be required to do this depends on the number of people that need to be evacuated. However, the Federal Government says that it expects that this “will take several days”. The three transport planes have a combined capacity of 220.
All those evacuated by the Belgian military will be brought to Belgium. The Federal Secretary of State responsible for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi (Flemish Christian democrat) stresses that all Afghans that are evacuated by the Belgian military will be granted humanitarian visas as “this is a moral obligation”.
The Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès (Francophone liberal) says that the operation will be a "difficult undertaking in circumstances that change from hour to hour”.
The US Army is in control at Kabul Airport and planes from several other European countries have already been able to land there in order to ferry out evacuees.