Denmark to evacuate Afghans who worked for Kabul embassy

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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 development is accelerating more than many had feared,” the Danish Foreign Affairs 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.

The Danish government has not yet announced its plans to suspend the deportation of Afghan migrants due to the instability in their country.

Finland, which July 9 became one of the first countries to halt deportation to Afghanistan, has not employed local staff since 2008, the press spokesman for the Nordic country’s forces told Finnish broadcaster YLE. Finland had been in Afghanistan since 2002 and its remaining small military contingent from the non-NATO member returned on June 8. Altogether, some 2,500 Finnish soldiers have served in Afghanistan in the past nearly 20 years.

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