Germany promises help for local staff amid Afghan withdrawal
Germany will not let down its Afghan staff as the international military mission in the country winds down after nearly two decades of war, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer pledged.
Kramp-Karrenbauer told German news agency dpa in comments published Sunday that she wants to get employees who may face danger if they remain in Afghanistan to Germany quickly.
"We are talking here about people who in some cases have worked for years by our side, at danger to their own safety, also have fought with us and made their personal contribution," she said. "I see it as a deep obligation for ... Germany not to leave these people behind unprotected now that we are finally leaving the country."
The Welt am Sonntag newspaper, citing the Interior Ministry, reported that Germany plans to set up an office in Kabul and probably also one in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan to help process cases.
Germany already has a procedure to allow in some Afghan employees, under which the Defense Ministry says 781 have been taken in since 2013. However, there have been some disputed cases.
"From my point of view, we have a changed situation because we are not talking about the rearrangement of a mission but about the end," Kramp-Karrenbauer said. "And that possibly means a different security situation and a different evaluation."
Germany aims to complete its withdrawal by mid-August.
U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO on Wednesday announced that they would withdraw the roughly 10,000 foreign troops still in Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Germany is the second-largest contingent with about 1,100 troops.
The withdrawals have raised concerns that Afghanistan could erupt into full-scale civil war, providing al Qaeda space in which to rebuild and plan new attacks on U.S. and other targets.
The German forces currently employ about 300 Afghans as interpreters and in other jobs, according to the defence ministry in Berlin.
Since 2013 Germany has admitted nearly 800 Afghans at risk in their own country after working for the foreign military, as well as about 2,500 family members.