First Belgians to be evacuated from Afghanistan arrive at Schiphol abroad at Dutch military plane
16 Belgians were aboard a Dutch military plane carrying evacuees from Afghanistan that arrived at Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam on Wednesday evening. Earlier on Wednesday another Belgian was evacuated aboard a French military plane.
Aboard what was the first Dutch evacuation flight were 35 Dutch nationals, 2 Germans, 2 British nationals and 16 Belgians, the Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld told journalists.
As there were still places available the Dutch military offered them to citizens of other European countries. “If we have room for others, we will take them with us”, a Dutch Army Colonel told journalists. The plane had just half an hour to take the evacuees on board.
The Dutch C-19 plane flew from Kabul to the Georgian capital Tbilisi. There the evacuees were transferred onto a flight bound for Schiphol. They arrived in The Netherlands just before 11pm on Wednesday.
The Belgian Foreign Ministry says that it is not yet clear who the 16 Belgians are. In fact, whether or not they are indeed Belgians is not 100% certain. The situation at Kabul Airport is chaotic to say the least and those wishing to board an evacuation flights are simply asked to put up their hand to say what nationality they are, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Crisis Centre told VRT News.
The Dutch public broadcaster NOS reports that the evacuees were allowed to get a good night’s sleep. Today their passports will be checked, and they will be tested for coronavirus. The Belgian authorities are at Schiphol to assist their Dutch colleagues.
The press agency Belga quotes two “reliable sources” as saying that the French military also evacuated a Belgian national on Wednesday. The Belgian is reported to be among around 40 evacuees that landed in the UAE on Wednesday morning. From there they were able to travel on to Paris.
Belgium too will be operating evacuation flights. To this end two C-1300 aircraft and 1 A-400M will be used. They will fly evacuees from Kabul to the Pakistani capital Islamabad. The Defence Ministry says that the first Belgian evacuation flight will be on Friday morning.