Skip to content
The article is more than 2 years old

Afghan embassy guards protest unpaid salaries, lack of evacuation by Finland

The guards were left in Kabul after Finland's departure from its embassy in the Afghan capital.

Joukko miehiä poseeraa Suomen liput käsissä. Heidän kasvonsa on plurrattu.
A group of Afghans staged a protest in Kabul on Saturday, 28 August. They said they worked as security guards at the Finnish embassy in Kabul and demanded that Finland add their names to evacuation lists. Image: Ylen haastattelema vartija
Yle News

A former security guard at the Finnish embassy in Kabul told Yle News that a number of guards employed to protect the embassy and ambassador's residence staged a protest on Saturday after it became clear that they had little hope of being evacuated by Finland.

The guard said they gathered in a courtyard in Kabul holding printed out Finnish flags and photocopies of their ID documents demanding Finland do more to help them after they worked at the embassy, in some cases for years.

Yle is not identifying the guard as he fears retribution from the Taliban.

"They left us here," the guard said via an instant messaging service, explaining he served as security at the Finnish embassy.

Yle has seen letters of reference commending him for his performance when employed as a 'static guard', that is a guard who protected properties used by Finnish diplomats.

The guard sent Yle a statement by his colleagues who were involved in the protest.

"Finland is one of those countries that left dozens of employees who worked for them as security for several years and saved Finnish diplomats' lives for the last two decades, but it is time to save their lives as well as their families," the guards' statement said.

The guard said he and his colleagues have not been paid salaries for their work up to 14 August, when they were told they no longer had jobs as the Taliban entered Kabul.

Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs had sub-contracted security at the embassy to a Finnish company, which in turn sub-contracted to an Afghan company, Tahiri Protections Risk Management Consulting.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) announced on Tuesday that some employees of Tahiri were eligible for evacuation.

Yle's sources said that this list included guards from the embassy's escort detail, which represents around one third of the security staff employed at the embassy.

That leaves around 40 guards stranded under Taliban rule in Kabul.

The guard Yle spoke to said Tahiri had kept their hopes up all week that they would be on an evacuation list, but the company eventually told them they would not be paid their salaries, and that there was no prospect of evacuation.

The guard said he now faces financial difficulties as food prices surge in Kabul.

Yle has asked the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs why these guards were not on an evacuation list, why their salaries had not been paid, and whether they have a notice period under their contracts. Yle also asked the Finnish company with the security contract whether the guards left in Kabul would be paid their August salaries, but had not received a reply by the time of publication.

At a press briefing on Saturday Haavisto was asked about Finnish embassy security guards not included on Finland's evacuation list.

"The government has aimed to limit the evacuation list to individuals who had an emplyment relationship with Finland. These are people who worked for the embassy in visible roles—that is to say with a Finnish flag on their sleeve. At this time we can't comment on the situation of other individuals," he said

The foreign minister said that the last group of 83 people were evacuated on Friday night, after the Finnish contingent of soldiers had left, thanks to an agreement with US forces at Kabul airport. He said they had spent two and a half days on a bus at the gates of the airport, through the terror attack on Thursday evening, before they finally escaped.

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia