A year after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, Berlin's efforts to evacuate thousands of at-risk Afghans are stalling.
The Taliban are reportedly blocking efforts by the German government to evacuate former Afghan workers and others at risk of persecution.
According to news magazine Der Spiegel, Berlin's emergency plan for thousands of former local staff of German institutions, political activists and artists in Afghanistan has stalled due to new controls imposed by the militants.
In a report published Sunday, Spiegel said the government's goal had been to evacuate 7,700 people between July and mid-September. But given only 1,044 Afghans could be brought to Germany in July, that target no longer seemed realistic, the report added.
The German Foreign Office told German press agency dpa that the pace of departures had slowed considerably. It said a "big problem" was that the Taliban were only allowing citizens to leave the country with a passport, but hardly any passports were being issued.
Spiegel reported that the Taliban were also stopping buses carrying evacuees across the border to neighboring Pakistan and forcing them to turn back. Under an agreement Berlin reached with Pakistan in June, former Afghan staff for Germany are allowed to enter Pakistan — even without passports.
The Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021 after the departure of US-led foreign forces. That prompted a chaotic international evacuation operation, with many people scrambling to leave the country.
According to German government data, about 10,000 Afghans who have been promised admission by Berlin are still waiting to leave the country. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in June that Germany had taken in around 21,000 people from Afghanistan who were in need of protection.
First published: August 7, 2022
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