On the evacuation flight from Kabul that landed late last night / Wednesday evening at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, there were finally seven people with Belgian passports. Belga learns this from a government source. Upon departure, fifteen others indicated that they were Belgian, most of whom are associated with Belgian passport holders.
The C-17 transport plane left the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday with a Hungarian plane. After a layover in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, it became a Dutch airline flight. Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bielefeld said in the Dutch lower house of parliament that 35 Dutch, a number of Germans and Brits, as well as 16 Belgians, were on board.
But it soon became apparent that the chaos at Hamid Karzai International Airport made accurate pre-flight identity checks impossible. The people on the plane are said to have indicated their nationality by a show of hands. The State Department has yet to verify the nationality of passengers who have indicated they are Belgian.
According to a government source, this has happened now. In the end, not 16 but 22 people on board the C-17 indicated that they were Belgian. It appears that seven of them actually hold a Belgian passport. The other fifteen hold Afghan citizenship, but in “most cases” they are linked to the evacuees from Belgium. This concerns, for example, close relatives, such as partners and children. Of the 22 passengers, 14 have already arrived in Belgium. The other eight are still in the Netherlands. It is not yet clear if they will stay there.
Meanwhile, the Belgian evacuation mission, dubbed “Red Kite”, is also in full readiness. Defense cargo planes will fly back and forth between the Pakistani capital, Islamabad and Kabul, to get the Belgians and their families, as well as Afghans such as interpreters and staff of human rights organizations, safely out of Afghanistan. The plane left for Islamabad yesterday/Wednesday, and the first plane is likely to land in Kabul on Friday morning. At least 470 people have already requested to be evacuated by Belgium.