Switzerland confirms official end to Afghan evacuations

Two suicide attacks just outside Kabul airport on Thursday have claimed the lives of more than 90 people. They were claimed by Islamic State. Switzerland says the rising violence is fueling the desperation of Afghans. Keystone / Stringer

Bern has now ended its evacuations from Afghanistan after bringing 387 people to Switzerland over two weeks with the help of the German military, says the foreign ministry.

This content was published on August 27, 2021 - 18:01

These people include 34 Swiss nationals and 218 Afghans who worked for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation with their families, it said in a press releaseExternal link on Friday. The ministry said there were still 11 Swiss nationals in Afghanistan, some working for international organisations, with whom it remains in contact, and 16 people with Swiss residence permits.

Swiss security officials taking part in the operation have also been repatriated and the crisis cell wound up.

The 218 Afghans and their families evacuated to Switzerland fall under an already established resettlement quota. They are currently in federal asylum centres where they have received medical treatment, had their identity checked and their personal details recorded. After their stay in the asylum centres “they are granted asylum in Switzerland and are distributed to the cantons for integration”, according to the press release.

Humanitarian concern

The foreign ministry described the evacuation effort as “Switzerland's most extensive evacuation operation to date”. But despite the operation’s success, it said “Switzerland is concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Kabul and strongly condemns yesterday's series of attacks”. “The high level of violence is contributing significantly to the desperation of the Afghan population and increasing the number of displaced persons seeking safety and protection. Switzerland condemns violations of international law and urges all actors involved to respect international humanitarian law and human rights. In particular, the rights of minorities and of women and girls must be guaranteed.”

Switzerland also expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and said it would “continue its engagement in the current context”. Bern reiterated its willingness to provide good offices “be it as a host state for an international conference or as a facilitator for talks, should the parties so desire”.

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