Sigrid Kaag, Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, speaks during a debate over remarks Prime Minister Mark Rutte made during talks to form a new government following the March 17 national elections, in The Hague, Netherlands April 2, 2021. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
The Netherlands has sent a second military plane to Afghanistan to help evacuate people from the country, fearing time for the operation is running out, Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said on Tuesday.
Kaag said the aim was to extract at least the almost 40 local Afghan staff at the Dutch Embassy and their families, along with translators and other Afghans whose lives may be in danger from Taliban militants because of their work for the Netherlands or non-governmental organisations.
But Kaag said it was very uncertain how many people would get out and how much time there was for the operation. "We will do everything we can to get those who deserve our protection out", she said in a debate with Dutch members of parliament.
"But we are not in control of the situation (and) we have to assume we only have very limited time. The grim reality is that that people might not be able to reach (Kabul) airport."
Kaag added the Dutch were reliant on U.S. armed forces to protect the airport and on American negotiations with the Taliban to help ensure safe passage for those who want to leave Afghhanistan.
The Dutch military sent an initial flight to Afghanistan on Monday, but that plane was unable to land in Kabul due to the chaos at the airport.
Reporting by Bart Meijer Editing by Mark Heinrich