Ways out of the Afghanistan crisis: Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travels to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Qatar and Turkey
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travels to Central Asia and Pakistan, © Felix Zahn/photothek.net
Following the takeover of power by the Taliban, there is a risk that Afghanistan will sink back into brutal conflicts. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is travelling today to the region to discuss further exit routes out of the country as well as the security and geopolitical impact of the developments.
In the last few weeks, the political situation in Afghanistan has been changing very rapidly. This is posing major challenges for the international community and the neighbouring countries in particular. Therefore, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is embarking on a three-day trip today to Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Qatar. Ahead of his departure, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement:
I am travelling to the region today to make it clear that Germany’s engagement is not ending with the conclusion of the military evacuation mission. We have been able to rely on international cooperation and support in recent weeks. Some of the countries that I am travelling to today have played a considerable part in ensuring the success of our evacuation mission and in enabling more than 5000 people to leave Afghanistan on Bundeswehr flights. On behalf of the Federal Government, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and to work to ensure that this international cooperation continues also in the critical phase that is beginning now.
Time for diplomacy: Creating safe exit routes out of Afghanistan for those in need of protection
More than 5300 people were evacuated on Bundeswehr flights. This was only possible through international cooperation. The hub in Uzbekistan in particular was essential for the German evacuation operation. However, there are still German nationals, former locally recruited staff and representatives of the Afghan civil society in special need of protection in the country. Diplomatic efforts are ongoing to enable them to leave Afghanistan. This will involve the resumption of civilian flights from Kabul airport. Turkey and Qatar in particular have a key role to play in this and both countries already made important contributions during the military evacuations. Another possible route is via Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries.
The takeover of power by the Taliban has led to a security vacuum. The grave and abhorrent terrorist attack at Kabul airport on 26 August shows that the terrorist threat in Afghanistan, and potentially also the international threat of terrorism, have increased. One of the purposes of this trip, therefore, is to explore with regional partners how best to deal with the new reality in Afghanistan. Respect for fundamental human and women’s rights is vitally important to the Federal Foreign Office. During the trip, there will also be discussions on how Germany can support these countries at this difficult time.
Humanitarian assistance for Afghans
Even before the current developments, around six million Afghans were dependent on humanitarian assistance. Several million Afghans had fled the violence in their home regions and headed to other parts of Afghanistan or to neighbouring countries. Germany has been providing emergency humanitarian assistance for many years. Additionally, the German Government has made available 100 million euros in the form of special funding to provide for the refugees. A further 500 million euro are earmarked. The funding is being given to independent humanitarian organisations such as UN bodies and other established humanitarian partners.