Up to 250 Belgian evacuees bussed to Kabul Airport

It’s understood that on Monday night and in the greatest of secrecy Belgian authorities brought some 250 people from a location in the Afghan capital Kabul to the airport for evacuation.  The Belgian authorities are not confirming or denying the report, but VRT News has spoken with people who were involved in the operation.

Until now people wishing to be evacuated needed to get to the airport on their own steam.  Up to 250 Afghan Belgians and people with a link to Belgium were instructed to gather at a secret location.  Five buses then took them to the airport. 

No Belgian military accompanied the transport, but the operation does mean that the Belgian evacuation has gone beyond the confines of the airport.  Buses safely passed through a Taliban checkpoint near the airport.

The operation was a co-ordinated evacuation.  Earlier Belgian premier De Croo made it clear Belgium didn’t have the capacity to carry out risky extractions. There is speculation the operation was carried out with the help of the Pakistani authorities, who enjoy good relations with the Taliban. The country initiated evacuations for several countries and international organisations.

Belgium is co-operating with Pakistan as part of its evacuation mission.  Belgian C130 Hercules aircraft are using Islamabad Airport.  On Monday night PM De Croo spoke with his Pakistani counterpart and took to Twitter to thank him for his assistance.

VRT’s Majd Khalifeh has spoken with several people who were evacuated who confirmed the operation.  On Tuesday PM De Croo told the Belgian press agency “We are concentrating our activities on the airport.  Few are the countries that carry out active extractions.  We are employing many methods to help people to get to the airport safely.”

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