For years, Kabul has been one of the world’s most difficult postings for Federal Foreign Office staff. During the military evacuation mission in August 2021, staff members worked under extremely challenging and dangerous conditions. A core team from the Embassy in Kabul organised the flights from Kabul to Tashkent together with security forces of the Federal Police and servicemen and women of the Bundeswehr. In addition, teams from the Federal Foreign Office were sent to Kabul for reinforcement. More than 5300 people were thus flown out of Afghanistan. Several hundred staff members in Berlin and the region coordinated and supported the mission. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed these staff members on their return to the airport in Berlin on 26 August and paid tribute to their mission:
The attack [at Kabul airport] highlights the dramatic and dangerous conditions under which our Bundeswehr soldiers and the core team from our Embassy have been working over the past 11 days. What they have done is incredible, and we are profoundly grateful. Together with many other staff members in Berlin and Tashkent, they have managed to fly more than 5300 people out of Kabul and bring them safely to Germany.
Recognition for the dedication shown by members of staff
State Secretary Miguel Berger hosted a reception at the Federal Foreign Office’s guest house, Villa Borsig, in Berlin-Tegel on 22 September to thank members of staff from the various ministries for their efforts on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office. The State Secretary expressed his great appreciation:
You deserve the greatest respect and profound gratitude for what you have done on the ground in Kabul under chaotic and distressing circumstances and for the immense personal risks and burdens that you have taken upon yourselves. I would also like to thank your families, who had to endure times of uncertainty and concern for your well-being.
For the first time since the end of the military mission, the members of staff deployed in Kabul had an opportunity to talk to each other and to State Secretary Berger about what they had gone through.
Hundreds of staff members from the Federal Foreign Office continue to work in both Berlin and in Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries to enable German nationals, local employees and Afghans in special need of protection to leave the country. To this end, they are, among other things, holding negotiations with neighbouring countries and the Taliban to facilitate evacuations by air and land and are arranging the transportation of passengers on Qatar Airways flights to Doha. Overall, several hundred people have been able to leave Afghanistan by air and land with the support of German authorities and institutions since the end of the official military evacuation mission. The Federal Foreign Office has also increased staffing levels at visa sections in light of the fact that greater numbers of applications for visas are now being submitted in Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries in particular.