Luxembourg looking to rescue its residents from Afghanistan
(This story was updated with defence ministry refusing to provide details including when the plane might be flown to Central Asia.)
By Yannick Hansen and Kate Oglesby
Luxembourg's government is trying to repatriate six residents caught in Kabul after the government backed by Western governments fell suddenly to Taliban militia, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.
The two foreigners are Afghan nationals living in Luxembourg, the foreign ministry told the Luxembourg Times in an email on Tuesday. The foreign ministry declined to respond to questions about the reasons for their stay in the war-torn country.
The Grand Duchy will use its massive A400M military transport plane, which it acquired in October, to bring the six people back to Luxembourg, the defense ministry added. The mission, jointly operated with Belgian forces, will also assist in airlifting 17 NATO employees out of Afghanistan.
The defense ministry refused to say when the plane is expected to arrive in Kabul, citing “security reasons.” The authorities also declined to say if Belgian nationals or Afghan collaborators will be flown out too, or whether the plane would ferry humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
As Luxembourg's government decides next steps, parliamentarians are demanding answers about the Grand Duchy's involvement in Afghanistan. They want to know whether the government can ensure the safety of Afghans such as cooks and translators who aided the Luxembourg army. Other lawmakers want to know whether the military transport plane will be used to fly humanitarian aid to the country.
Lawmakers from both the right-wing Alternative Democratic Reform Party (ADR) and the Pirate Party lawmakers have also asked the government if any aid payments had been made to the country this year and how Luxembourg’s humanitarian aid to the country could look in the future.
Meanwhile, former defense minister Charles Goerens and soldiers from the Grand Duchy who formerly served in Afghanistan bemoaned the Taliban takeover.
NATO allies should have stayed longer and should have secured an orderly transition, Charles Goerens, a Liberal European Parliament member who oversaw the start of Luxembourg’s involvement in Afghanistan in 2001, told radio 100,7 on Tuesday.
Luxembourg brothers Joe and Jeff Etienne served in Afghanistan as soldiers between 2010 and 2012 and expressed sorrow about the situation and the troops who lost their lives. The Taliban victory - 20 years after they were displaced from running the country and sheltering terrorist groups - raises doubts about whether soldiers who sought to bring peace died in vain, Jeff Etienne told RTL
“In the end, [the mission] did not achieve much other than swallowing a lot of money,” Joe Etienne said.