Foreign Ministry relief team leaves Afghanistan; Finland successfully evacuates 330 persons from Kabul
Finland ended its relief efforts in Kabul as planned on Thursday 26 August. Both the Foreign Ministry’s relief team and the Defence Forces’ unit tasked with safeguarding the efforts have now left Afghanistan. We will continue to provide consular assistance through other means to the extent possible.
The relief efforts proved successful: During the past ten days in Kabul, we evacuated a total of 240 Finnish citizens, permanent residents of Finland, and locally employed staff members of the Finnish Embassy, including their family members. This number also includes persons who were evacuated based on their vulnerable position. In addition, in line with the government decision of 13 August, all Finnish persons who worked for the EU Delegation and the NATO Mission in Afghanistan were evacuated. The total number of these persons is 80. The diplomatic personnel working for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs were also brought safely home. This brings the total number of evacuees to 330 persons.
Under the Consular Services Act, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs provides assistance to Finnish citizens and permanent residents of Finland and their accompanying family members in order to protect their personal safety and security. Furthermore, decisions to evacuate persons under humanitarian grounds were made under extremely challenging circumstances at Kabul Airport based on an assessment of the situation at the time, with due regard for the security risks to the persons in question.
It has not yet been possible to evacuate all persons to be evacuated in line with the government decisions. According to information currently available to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, approximately a dozen Finnish citizens and about as many others entitled to consular assistance are still in Afghanistan.
We keep in touch with these people and will continue to help them in various ways. EU Member States and other partner countries that are still present in the country are continuing evacuations. In an emergency, persons who are entitled to consular assistance can turn to representatives of these countries. It will take time before operations resume at Kabul Civil Airport. The security situation in the vicinity of the military airport remains dangerous.
In the first phase, the Finnish Immigration Service will be responsible for receiving the evacuees in Finland. The persons admitted to Finland based on the government decisions will receive a residence permit under special humanitarian grounds. Persons evacuated from Afghanistan who are not covered by the government decisions will be referred to the normal asylum procedure. The majority of these individuals are family members of persons who have received consular assistance. The evacuees will be provided with the necessary healthcare and social services.
The reception of evacuees at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport was organised in extensive collaboration between public authorities. In addition to the Finnish Immigration Service, these include the Border Guard, the Police, Finnish Customs, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Vantaa Social Emergency and Crisis Centre, and the Finnish Red Cross.
Veikko Kiljunen, Director of Unit, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 350 101, [email protected]
Jari Kähkönen, Director General, Finnish Immigration Service, tel. +358 295 463 210, [email protected]
Eero Koskenniemi, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 616, [email protected]