Evacuation underway: 11 of the 35 Swiss nationals have left Afghanistan so far. This was announced, Friday evening, by the crisis director of the external department, Hans-Peter Lenz (63). One person has now arrived in Switzerland. In addition, eight of the 40 Afghans with permanent residence permits in Switzerland would have left – almost all of them via Kabul airport.
The situation is even bleaker for the local staff who worked for the Swiss Cooperation office in Kabul and their families. Unfortunately, none of the 233 people were able to leave Kabul, said Hans-Peter Lenz. Only one local person has arrived at Kabul airport so far.
Taliban attacks local employees
The airport is controlled by the Americans. The crisis manager explains that it is not easy for the Swiss soldiers on site to make their voices heard. “Right now, it’s hard to expect us to have a priority on evacuating local staff.” This is particularly worrying because there are increasing reports from Afghanistan that the Taliban are arresting or even killing “Western collaborators” in the cities.
Switzerland sends Swiss planes to Tashkent
Today, Saturday, Switzerland will send a Swiss plane to the Uzbek capital Tashkent. This plays a major role in the evacuation process because many countries are moving their personnel from Kabul to Tashkent.
Linz told the media that Switzerland is working with Swiss Fliger to achieve a triple goal. First, they want to help unload the airport in Tashkent. “It’s about making room for the newcomers from Kabul.” So far one has been able to benefit from the support of friendly countries. “Now we’d like to make a contribution as well.”
Second, there are 1.3 million protective masks on board for the Uzbek population suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Third, six FDFA personnel from the Humanitarian Aid Corps will be on board. They are supposed to support elite Swiss soldiers stationed in the military part of the Kabul airport. “People at Kabul airport have had very stressful days,” said Lenz. “We have to ensure that we are available 24 hours a day so that no one will miss us at the gate.” (Sesame)
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