Without luggage, sitting on the floor of a military plane, only 18 Finns who worked at the Finnish embassy in Kabul were evacuated to Doha (Qatar) on Monday aboard a US military plane.
The rapid shift of power in the battered Asian country has annulled the Helsinki government's plan, which the night before still insisted that it would send a charter flight to Kabul to bring 170 Afghans, some of them employed by Finnish peacekeepers and diplomats along with their families.
But now, amid the chaos at Kabul airport, commercial flights to Afghanistan have been suspended. Control of air traffic in Kabul is in the hands of the US military. And Finland, a country that lacks military transport planes for a mission of this size, will depend on other countries to deliver on its promises, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto admitted Monday afternoon at a press conference.
Haavisto said the evacuation of the Finnish diplomats carried out on Monday was rough. He had words of gratitude for the staff of the embassy who kept the diplomatic mission open until the last moment, in order to secure the safety of other Finns in the city.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs had provided a telephone number and an email address for Finns living in Afghanistan to contact the government with a view to an evacuation.
According to the Finnish diplomacy chief, a few dozen people - some of them Finnish citizens of Afghan descent - have reported that they wanted to leave. The Ministry says it is doing everything possible to help them.
170 Afghans left behind
The complexity of the operation has forced to leave behind for the moment also the 170 Afghans that the government promised to bring to Finland. The government says it has not yet been possible to evacuate them.
The task of getting them out of the country is now very complicated, according to Foreign Minister Haavisto, as security conditions have deteriorated rapidly, access to the airport is difficult and some of these people even lack travel documents.
The government's intention to bring them to Finland has not changed, the foreign minister said.