Tuesday. 28.11.2023

Finland ends evacuation flights after rescuing 330 from Kabul

According to the foreign minister, few or none of the people on the expanded evacuation list made it to the airport to board the rescue flights, due to deteriorating security
Evacuees from Afghanistan boarding a plane at Kabul international airport. Photo: Twitter/@Ulkoministerio.
Evacuees from Afghanistan boarding a plane at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Photo: Twitter/@Ulkoministerio.

The Finnish government ended the evacuation mission for Finns and assistant Afghan personnel from Kabul on Thursday.

According to preliminary government information, evacuation flights organized by Finland had made it possible to rescue some 340 people from the chaos in which Afghanistan has been plunged for the last two weeks. Later, on Friday, government said the number of ecacuees was 330, instead of the 340 previously reported. 

Among those 330 evacuees, dozens of those included in the Finnish evacuation list are missing. However, personnel from other countries and staff from institutions with presence in Afghanistan such as the European Union and NATO have come on the Finnish flights. That is the reason why the total number of evacuees exceeds the 298 authorized by the coalition government chaired by Sanna Marin (SDP). 

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto announced the end of evacuation operations Thursday evening at a press conference, following news of the terrorist attack that killed dozens at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport. Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen said it was no longer possible to continue operations due to deteriorating security.

Finland had recently sent a military unit to Kabul to help carry out the repatriations. Three days ago, the government also approved increasing the number of people to evacuate to 298, instead of the initial 170.

The expanded list of people to be evacuated includes Finnish nationals, people with permanent residence in Finland who were in Kabul and personnel who have worked for the Finnish military and diplomats in Afghanistan, with their families.

Uneven luck

Now both the troops and the Finnish embassy personnel have been evacuated. They are expected to land in Finland on today.

As for the evacuees, their luck has been mixed.

The Foreign Minister explained that most of the people who were included in the original evacuation list of 170 managed to leave Afghanistan. However, few or none of the 128 on the expanded list made it to the airport to board the rescue flights, due to deteriorating security.

Among the latter were the security guards of the Finnish embassy and their families, who had to remain in Kabul.

The government has said that everyone on the Finnish evacuation list will receive a 4-year residence permit for humanitarian reasons.

Finland ends evacuation flights after rescuing 330 from Kabul