580 people on Belgium’s Afghanistan evacuation list
Belgium has requested permission to make 4 evacuation flights to and from the Afghan capital Kabul today. Two C130 military transport planes will be used to ferry evacuees from Kabul to the Pakistani capital Islamabad. There are currently 580 people on the Belgian evacuation list. 344 of these are Belgian nationals, 222 are Afghans.
The Belgian military has requested four time slots at Kabul Airport on Friday. Admiral Wim Robberecht told VRT News that the first evacuation flight is expected to land in the late afternoon. “However, we will only be able to confirm this once we are in the air”. On Friday evening an Airbus A400M will leave from Islamabad on Friday evening to bring the first of the evacuees to Brussels. The remaining evacuees will be flown from Islamabad aboard a charter plan.
In addition, to the 344 Belgians on the evacuation list there are also 222 Afghans. These include family members of the Belgians on the list and people that have been granted protected status by the Belgian authorities. There are also 14 Dutch and Luxemburg nationals among the 580 names on the list. All those that will be evacuated today should be contacted by consular staff. Those hoping to be evacuated are requested to wait until they are contacted by the Belgian Embassy before they leave for the airport.
However, it is far from certain whether those on the list will be able to reach the airport. Furthermore, the four slots requested by the Belgian military have not yet been officially granted. Admiral Robberecht told VRT News that “In a situation like this it can never be guaranteed that you can land”.
"It could also be the case that it isn’t safe to land. For example, when like what we have seen previously there is a mass of people present at the airport and at the same time too many planes turn up. Then there comes a time that you have to turn back”.
It remains to be seen whether the people on the list will be able to get to the airport. The Taliban have set up checkpoints and imposed at nightly curfew. In addition to this the situation around the airport remains chaotic. It is crucial that those on the list are able to get to the airport. The evacuation flights to Kabul will not go ahead if the army is not certain of being able to collect evacuees that are on the list.
The Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder (Francophone socialist) has said that in order to be allowed onto one of the evacuation flights, a would-be evacuee will need to produce a Belgian passport or ID card. If they don’t have either of these, they will need to prove that they have links with our country, for example if they worked for the Belgian Army in Afghanistan as an interpreter or a fixer. This is to prevent people falsely claiming to have links to Belgium in order to be evacuated.