Spain's defense ministry chartered a plane to bring 294 people from Afghanistan to the Torrejón Air Base, Spain via Islamabad | Photo: Twitter account of the Spanish Ministry of Defense @desdelamoncloa
Spain's defense ministry chartered a plane to bring 294 people from Afghanistan to the Torrejón Air Base, Spain via Islamabad | Photo: Twitter account of the Spanish Ministry of Defense @desdelamoncloa

Around 300 Afghans who worked for Spain, and their families, arrived in Madrid from Pakistan on Wednesday, a year after the Taliban's return to power in Kabul.

Spain’s foreign minister, Jose Manuel Albares, was at Madrid's Torrejon de Ardoz airbase to meet a group of 294 Afghans when their flight from Islamabad landed at around 10:15 pm on Wednesday, (August 10).

The government would now work "to help these people to integrate, given that it will be difficult for them to return to Afghanistan in the near future," Albares said.

Last year, Spain was among the countries to evacuate Afghans who had helped their troops and diplomats. During the withdrawal by Western forces, Spain airlifted more than 2,000 people out of the country, most of them Afghans at risk of reprisals from the new Taliban rulers.

Madrid will 'not lose interest in Afghans'

But the flights had to stop once the last US troops that had been protecting Kabul's airport left at the end of August 2021.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said at the time that Madrid would not "lose interest in the Afghans who had remained" in their country but wanted to leave.

Since then, planes have brought to Spain hundreds more Afghan citizens who had managed to cross into other nations such as Pakistan, Turkey and Iran. The government says it has evacuated 3,900 Afghan locally-engaged staff over the past year. The first group to arrive following the takeover by the Taliban landed at Torrejon de Ardoz air base on August 19, 2021.

During nearly 20 years of involvement in the Afghanistan conflict, Madrid committed about 27,000 troops. A total of 102 of its soldiers died.

With AFP

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