An Open Letter on Evacuations from Afghanistan

KinderBerg International e.V. (KBI) has been managing and overseeing programs in Afghanistan continuously since 2002.  These programs, designed primarily to assist women and children, have been funded both through private donations and with significant financial support from the German Federal Government.  We have been closely following developments in Afghanistan, through media reports and other sources, as well as contacts with colleagues and former colleagues who remain in the country, some of whom who have requested our assistance to be evacuated to Germany, based on their fear of retribution by the Taliban for their work with a German NGO and, indirectly the German Government.

Since 2002 we have employed over 700 Afghans in different projects, in a wide variety of functions such as doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, drivers, educators, interpreters, logisticians, guards, cooks, and others. Our approach is based on “Afghans working with and helping other Afghans,” and we have emphasized that all staff work collectively in pursuit of common goals; in this framework no one person is inherently more valuable than another.

Some former colleagues have heard rumors that Germany would be willing to accept at-risk Afghans who can be evacuated from the international airport in Kabul, and they have requested KBI to provide support letters to justify inclusion on a list of potential evacuees. Given our employment numbers in the past 20 years, and the average size of an Afghan family, upwards of 3000 people might be broadly included as “vulnerable” if the criterion is simply previous employment with KBI.  Presumably many other German organizations find themselves in a similar quandary.

We have been informed that even the governmental organization GIZ, charged with implementing German developmental aid is planning to evacuate only staff that have been employed during the past 2 years, but they have been unable to do so given the current conditions. We believe that the possibilities available to German NGOs (non-governmental organizations) such as KBI are even smaller. Under the circumstances we urge the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue official guidelines on who could be included on a German NGO “at-risk list” warranting urgent consideration for evacuation to Germany.

In the meanwhile, and in the absence of any clear instructions, including any limits on the number of “recommendations” that can be made, we feel that it would be too risky and morally irresponsible for us to support any individual petition while excluding others. We don’t want to raise false hopes that cannot be confirmed and fulfilled by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Moreover, we don’t want our colleagues to expose themselves to the risk of getting to and waiting at the Kabul airport without any certainty of getting on a plane. We also want to urge everyone to stop disseminating information that people can get on a plane only by writing an e-mail to us or by sending a work-certificate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to our information this is “fake news”.

 

The current situation in Afghanistan saddens many of us. Nevertheless, we fully intend to continue our primary goal of the past nineteen years, namely to provide assistance to women and children in Afghanistan to the best of our abilities. We will stay and continue our work.

Respectfully,

Suzana Lipovac

Founder and Managing Director