Denmark to evacuate Afghans who worked for Kabul embassy

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish lawmakers have agreed to evacuate 45 Afghan citizens who worked for Denmark’s government in Afghanistan and to offer them residency in the European country for two years.

The plan approved Wednesday applies to people who worked at the Danish Embassy in Kabul and as interpreters for Danish troops. Demark, like other Western nations including the U.S., recently pulled its remaining troops out of Afghanistan. Denmark opened its embassy in Kabul in 2006.

Current and former embassy employees from within the past two years are eligible for evacuation along with their spouses and children. The effort to get them out of Afghanistan must begin as soon as possible but be carried out gradually “so that the embassy still can function,” according to a foreign ministry statement.

“The security situation in Afghanistan is serious. The Taliban are gaining ground and (this) development is accelerating more than many had feared,” the Danish Foreign Ministry said after the evacuation plan received broad political support.

“We have a common responsibility to help the Afghans who are now threatened due to their connection and contribution to Denmark’s involvement in Afghanistan,” the ministry said.

Those evacuated will be screened both in Afghanistan and upon arrival in Denmark where they will undergo “a security interview with the immigration authorities and other relevant Danish authorities.”

“It will be a condition for the right to the two-year stay in Denmark that the evacuated persons are not considered to pose a danger to Denmark’s security,” the statement said.

A vote in the 179-seat Folketing legislature later in October when lawmakers reconvene after the summer break, is considered a formality.

Meanwhile, in an e-mail Thursday to The Associated Press, Danish Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye said the Afghan government informed Copenhagen last month that due to the instability in the country “it had decided to temporarily suspend forced deportations to Afghanistan for a period of three months.”

“The Afghan government’s decision means in practice that we cannot forcibly deport to Afghanistan until October 8 this year, as forced repatriations require that Afghan authorities are ready to receive the individual deported person at the border,” Tesfaye said. “However, Denmark will continue to be able to carry out voluntary repatriations.”

According to Danish authorities, a single voluntary repatriation of a rejected asylum seeker to Afghanistan has been carried out, while a forced repatriation last month was postponed due to the Afghan authorities’ decision.

Some 45 rejected asylum seekers from Afghanistan have been in a deportation position as of July 31.

Finland, which on July 9 became one of the first countries to halt deportation of migrants to Afghanistan, has not employed local staff since 2008, the press spokesman for the Nordic country’s forces told Finnish broadcaster YLE.

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