France already set up a “humanitarian air bridge” for Afghans in June

France has already evacuated hundreds of people from Afghanistan in relative silence in recent months. This happened with the expectation of the Taliban coming to power.

Preparations for this began four months ago. Then the French ambassador in Kabul, David Martinon, invited French aid organizations to consult. The message: the danger was imminent and the people would be evacuated.

“In mid-April, we received the ambassador’s proposal to move our staff to France and apply for asylum,” said Philippe Bertonich, director of relief organization Afrane at NOS. His NGO supports dozens of schools in Afghanistan.

Also the driver and kitchen staff all along

The French Embassy has drawn up lists of people eligible for eviction. “It was about the French people, but also about the Afghans,” says Franco-Afghan political analyst Karim Pakzad. “Former interpreters of the French army in Afghanistan were allowed to attend, but also drivers and kitchen staff from the embassy, ​​for example.”

The French Foreign Ministry confirms these evacuations to the NOS. “We don’t want to forget the people who worked with us,” said a senior official. “These are people who can be threatened. That is why we have brought more than 600 Afghans and their relatives to France since May.”

This happened with several flights from early June to mid July. “19 of our employees flew, along with their relatives and they were a group of 80 people,” says director of Efran Bertunch. They came to Paris by plane on July 12.

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On July 16, the French government chartered a final flight carrying 70 French and Afghanis.

“Everyone knows the race is over”

The humanitarian airlift had an obvious reason: the Taliban’s advance. The State Department has been talking about a “very rapidly deteriorating situation” in Afghanistan in recent weeks and months. So, in April, it was considered that action should be taken.

“Everyone knew what was going to happen,” says political scientist Pakzad. “At the beginning of July, the Taliban had already controlled two-thirds of all provinces in Afghanistan. Then everyone knew that the race was over. And it was absolutely clear to the French authorities, even in April: Kabul would fall into the hands of the Taliban.”

Over the past week, France has resumed evacuations. Transport the French and Afghans to safety via Abu Dhabi. A third plane landed in Paris on Thursday evening with 200 people on board.

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