Dutch Foreign Minister Kaag quits over Afghan refugee crisis

Sigrid Kaag resigned after majority of parliament said she had mishandled evacuation of refugees from Afghanistan

Reuters September 17, 2021
Sigrid Kaag, Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, speaks in The Hague, Netherlands April 2, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag resigned on Thursday, after a majority of parliament said she had mishandled the evacuation of refugees from Afghanistan last month.

Members of parliament from across the political spectrum said Kaag bore responsibility for the government's slow response to the surge of the Taliban and for failing to prepare the safe passage of thousands of Afghans who could have been eligible for asylum in the Netherlands.

"Your chamber has decided the Cabinet acted irresponsibly," Kaag said. "The minister must go if her policy has been rejected."

Read more: UN refugee chief warns 'greater suffering' likely in Afghanistan

Dutch military planes evacuated around 2,100 people from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries in the last two weeks of August, and almost 1,700 of them had the Netherlands as their final destination.

But hundreds of Dutch citizens, many of Afghan origin, and an unspecified number of Afghans who worked for military missions, news media or non-governmental organizations were left behind as they were not able to reach the airport.

Also read: Mullah Baradar, Anas Haqqani dispel rumours of Taliban rifts

Former diplomat Kaag served as UN special coordinator for Lebanon in 2015-2017, and before that headed a UN team overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons.

Her left-leaning D66 party was one of the main winners in general elections last March, but efforts to form a new government have so far stalled.



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