Luxembourg spent €100M in Afghanistan failure
(This article was updated with information about 11 people with ties to Luxembourg reaching Islamabad in paragraph four)
Luxembourg poured €100 million into Afghanistan, most of it to support the military which melted away before Taliban fighters as Western forces pulled out of the country this month, government ministers said.
Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn and Defence Minister François Bausch plan to discuss Luxembourg's role in Afghanistan after the collapse of its Western-backed government during a press conference on Wednesday.
The Grand Duchy is trying to evacuate from the war-torn country four Luxembourgish citizens, two Afghans living in the Grand Duchy and three others with ties to the country.
Eleven people with ties to Luxembourg made their way from Kabul to Islamabad in Pakistan, Defence Minister François Bausch told radio station 100,7 on Tuesday evening, and were expected to arrive in Belgium on Wednesday. As well as the initial nine people, two family members were also evacuated. More than 200 people are seeking to get to Luxembourg and either have family in the country or have worked for non-governmental organisations (NGO), Bausch said.
The country pumped €52 million into support ing Afghan national security forces and another €47.5 million in humanitarian aid since 2001 when Western allies overthrew the country's previous Taliban rule, Asselborn and Development Minister Franz Fayot said in a response to parliament on Tuesday.
Luxembourg's government pledged to continue backing Afghan security forces with €4 million a year until 2024, the ministers said in their response to questions from Fernand Kartheiser, a lawmaker from the right-leaning ADR.
This year's tranche had not yet been paid, the ministers said. The country had earmarked more than €2.3 million for humanitarian aid this year.
Asselborn was pessimistic about the past two decades of work to make Afghanistan more like Western democracies, he told Luxembourg lawmakers last week. The Taliban takeover was evidence that 20 years of effort wasn't enough to eradicate extremism and terrorism, Asselborn told lawmakers according to a news release on the parliament's web site.
Luxembourg has positioned its recently acquired A400M military plane in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad to fly people evacuated from Kabul to a Belgian military airport near Brussels. Besides repatriating its own citizens and residents, Luxembourg's mission also included helping to rescue 17 NATO employees stranded in Afghanistan, the government said last week.