Swiss offer mediation in Afghan crisis, join airlift efforts

Expats and locals have been struggling to get out of Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Keystone / Stringer

Switzerland is sending a plane to Uzbekistan to repatriate people evacuated from Kabul, the foreign ministry said on Friday. Bern is also offering its mediation services for Afghanistan should they be desired.

This content was published on August 20, 2021 - 18:45

A SWISS plane will fly to Tashkent on Saturday to take Swiss nationals and others of different nationalities back to Europe, according to the foreign ministryExternal link. It did not specify the number of people concerned but said the plane has about 300 seats. The plane will bring around 1.3 million Covid-19 masks that Switzerland is offering to Uzbekistan, and there will be medical staff on board.

“This charter flight is a concrete, burden-sharing contribution made by Switzerland, joining the evacuation efforts of the international community,” according to the statement. “As part of this, 14 Swiss citizens have been able to reach Switzerland, thanks to flights operated by Germany and the US. Switzerland is working closely with partner states to coordinate evacuation efforts.”

The ministry also said it continues to “work tirelessly” to evacuate its local personnel, Swiss citizens and people with close ties to Switzerland. “The Swiss embassy in Islamabad, responsible for consular matters in Afghanistan, is maintaining regular contact with the roughly 35 Swiss citizens still there,” said the statement. “This number has increased because more Swiss citizens have reported their presence to the embassy in Islamabad over the course of the last few days.”

Bern said it was examining ways to deliver humanitarian aid and is willing to provide its good offices, “should all the actors involved so desire”.

The foreign ministry recalled that Switzerland has been a participant in the meetings of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan and had hosted two major donor conferences for Afghanistan in Geneva in 2018 and 2020.

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