Saturday 10/16/21
UPDATE - AFGHANISTAN

Number of Afghans evacuated by the Finnish government rises to 140

While other European countries transparently show the arrivals of their evacuees, the Finnish government hides them citing "security" and "privacy" reasons
Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (R) and Chief of Staff Operations Kari Nisula at a press conference. Photo: Laura Kotila/Vnk.
Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (R) and Chief of Staff Operations Kari Nisula, at a press conference. Photo: Laura Kotila/Vnk.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Monday morning that the number of Afghans evacuated to Finland by the Finnish government has risen to 140.

Of them, 84 were evacuated on Sunday.

Haavisto made this statement during the (virtual) meeting of Finnish ambassadors 2021.

Later, the Minister of the Interior, Maria Ohisalo, reported the arrival in Helsinki in the morning of a plane from Tibilisi, Georgia, with 102 people on board.

The Finnish government said on Sunday evening that intensive efforts are underway to evacuate Finns and Afghans who have been working for the Nordic country's government in Afghanistan.

Around 10 people were evacuated from Kabul on Saturday, and a group of 84 boarded evacuation flights on Sunday. This brings the total number of evacuees to 140 at present, according to the latest figures provided by Foreign Minister Haavisto.

The evacuees are Finnish citizens or permanent residents of Finland, along with other persons who have been working for Finland, the EU and NATO, together with their families.

The evacuations will continue in cooperation with the Defence Forces’ unit tasked with safeguarding the efforts, other authorities and Finland’s close partner countries. The Foreign Ministry’s relief team in Kabul has received reinforcements, and there is a five-person relief team on the ground at the airport. 

The military unit arrived in the area on Saturday. The fact that its support work could get off to a quick start has made a big difference, as the number of people to be evacuated has increased significantly since the unit arrived, the government stressed.

The task of the unit in the area is to protect the employees of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and to assist in the evacuation, including by guiding the evacuees. 

'Security' concerns

The greatest challenges still faced by Finland and the other evacuating countries have to do with how difficult and dangerous it is to get people to the airport and through the gates amidst the huge crowds of people. The Finnish team on the ground is continuously assessing the development of the security situation in close cooperation with representatives from other countries.

"Based on this information, we will provide instructions to the people being evacuated, with their safety and security as our top priority," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

21 August 2021, Rhineland-Palatinate, Ramstein-Miesenbach: Afghan refugees evacuated from Kabul line up for processing after arrival from Kabul at Ramstein Air Base. Ramstein Air Base provides temporary housing for evacuees from Afghanistan as part of Operation Allies Refuge. Photo: Ssgt. Emma James/Planet Pix via ZUMA Press Wire/dpaAfghan refugees evacuated from Kabul line up for processing after arrival from Kabul at Ramstein Air Base, in Germany. Photo: Emma James/dpa.

While other European countries transparently show the arrivals of their evacuees, the Finnish government hides them. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs refers to "security" and "privacy" reasons for not revealing when and how evacuees arrive in Finland.

"It is important that the people arriving in Finland are guaranteed the peace they deserve and given the opportunity to rest after their traumatic experiences," the Ministry in a statement on Sunday.

Inside the Nordic country, many people have openly criticized and opposed the Afghan reception and asylum operation, especially through social media.

19 August 2021, Spain, Torrejon de Ardoz: Spanish Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration Jose Luis Escriva (L) and Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Jose Manuel Albares (2nd L), receive the passengers of the Spanish Air Force A400M aircraft after it landed at Torrejon military base as part of the evacuation from Kabul. The aircraft, dispatched by the Spanish government, has brought an initial group of 55 Spaniards and Afghan collaborators to Spain. Photo: Alejandro Martínez Vélez/EUROPA PRESS/dpa

Spanish Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration Jose Luis Escriva (L) and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Albares (2nd L), receive the passengers of the Spanish Air Force A400M aircraft after it landed at Torrejon military base as part of the evacuation from Kabul. Photo: Alejandro Martínez Vélez/dpa.

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