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Finland to evacuate 130 Afghans

The Taliban is advancing across Afghanistan, leaving many in the country seeking a way out.

Ulkoministeri Pekka Haavisto
Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) announced the decision to evacuate some Afghan staff on Friday. Image: Mikko Koski / Yle
Yle News

Finland is to evacuate up to 130 Afghan staff and family members from the country as concern grows about the advance of Taliban rebels across Afghanistan.

At a press conference on Friday, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green)said that Finland would evacuate 130 people, including staff who had worked for Finland in Afghanistan recently, and their families.

The decision does not cover all staff who have worked for Finland in the two decades since it joined the international mission to stabilise Afghanistan.

The government met on Friday afternoon to confirm the decision, which was made under the Aliens' Act's provisions for exceptional humanitarian assistance.

The decision means Finland will endeavour to evacuate and grant residence permits to people who have recently been employed by Finland, Nato or the EU in Afghanistan along with their families, with a maximum of 130 people in total to be evacuated.

Staff interpreting for and assisting Finnish forces attached to the Finnish presence in the country have been employed by other countries and Nato since 2008.

Finland's embassy remains open for now, but the situation is under constant review as the Taliban advance continues.

The hardline Islamist group has captured major cities throughout Afghanistan, including the second and third largest cities Herat and Kandahar.

Britain, the US and Canada have announced plans to send troops to Kabul in order to safeguard the evacuation of diplomatic staff and others ahead of an expected battle for the capital in the coming weeks and months.

Those who were employed by western forces in the 20 years since a US-led coalition took control of the country now fear retribution.

The United States announced its withdrawal from the country earlier this year. Since then, the Taliban has taken control of large swathes of the country as Afghan government forces collapse.

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