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Finland u-turns, adds Kabul embassy guards to evacuation list

The guards had been told they would not be evacuated from Afghanistan.

Utrikesminister Pekka Haavisto (Gröna) håller presskonferens om läget i Afghanistan den 22 augusti 2021.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) announced the change on Tuesday evening. Image: Lehtikuva
Yle News

Finland has reversed its decision not to evacuate security guards who worked to protect Finnish diplomats in Kabul.

They had been employed via a sub-contractor and therefore were left off the original evacuation lists, when it became clear the Taliban would take over Afghanistan and the western presence in the country dramatically scaled back.

At a press conference on Tuesday evening, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) said that the guards were in real danger.

"They have been there with the Finnish flag on their sleeve, albeit employed via a private firm," said Haavisto. "If we can help improve their security, then we want to do that."

Haavisto said that the ministry had information that searches and threats by the Taliban had stepped up, and targeted embassy staff.

As of Tuesday evening Finland had evacuated some 250 people. Some 100 of those are Finnish citizens, while 150 are Afghan citizens eligible for evacuation.

At Tuesday's press conference Haavisto said that the decision expanded the evacuation list to include 45 former embassy staff and family members and 83 security guards and family members.

That brings the total number of Afghans on evacuation lists to 298, including the 170 embassy staff on the original evacuation list.

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