Switzerland relies on Germany and US for Afghanistan evacuation
Over 200 people who worked for the Swiss government and other Swiss institutions in Afghanistan are yet to be evacuated, as a lack of transport aircraft and slow distribution of visas has left them stranded in the war-torn nation.
Afghans who worked for the Swiss stuck in Kabul
The 38 local employees and 200 close relatives are still waiting for an evacuation to take place, with the government considering whether to charter its own flights. As Switzerland does not have any military transport planes, it has had to rely on American and German assistance to evacuate Swiss citizens.
Now, locals employed by the Swiss fear reprisals by the Taliban, who took control of the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday. Like locals who assisted coalition forces during the deployment in Afghanistan, those who assisted the Swiss fear for their lives and families.
Switzerland “waited too long to evacuate Afghanistan”
Federal House correspondent for SRF, Oliver Washington, says that the government has deployed a detachment of the Swiss Army to Uzbekistan to assist in the evacuation. Criticism has been raised about the delay in giving Afghan workers visas for Switzerland, with many saying that Switzerland took too long to start the evacuation process.
“We have to answer that with yes. But Switzerland is not alone in this. Everyone waited too long,” noted Washington. Karin Keller-Sutter, Federal Councillor for the Justice Department, who is responsible for the emergency visas, said that as soon as action needed to be taken, she did so immediately.
Political conflict led to delay in Afghanistan
In a special session on Afghanistan in the Swiss National Council, the Social Democratic Party (SP) and the Green Party (GPS) demanded that Switzerland accept 10.000 refugees from the country. “The Afghan people now need the unreserved support of the international community, including Switzerland,” said SP National Councillor, Fabian Molina, who called on all nations to use sanctions and incentives to make sure the country respects human rights.
National Councillor from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), Roger Köppel said that “Switzerland does not play a major role in this drama. It should behave accordingly,” he affirms that Switzerland should maintain its neutrality and help in giving people temporary asylum in countries near Afghanistan. “Asylum only for people who are personally threatened in life and limb,” was the core message as the debate around Switzerland’s role in a new Afghanistan continues.