A year has passed, and yet we all still have the images of desperate people clinging to aircraft and Kabul plunging into chaos in our minds. Since then, the rule of the Taliban has cast a dark shadow over Afghanistan. Today, many Afghans do not have enough to eat, they live in daily fear of persecution and their fundamental rights have been curtailed.
For women and girls, life in Afghanistan feels like a prison sentence. The very idea that girls do not have unrestricted access to education in the 21st century and that women cannot move freely without a male relative to accompany them is almost unbearable – but bitter reality for many in Afghanistan.
The 20‑year mission in Afghanistan was meant to enable Afghans to live a life in freedom. So many Germans have worked there over the years at great personal risk. A total of 59 Bundeswehr soldiers paid with their lives, as did several German police officers and individuals working in the sphere of development cooperation. What remains is the hope that this commitment was not in vain.
For this reason, too, the international community has a responsibility towards Afghan civil society and all those working to uphold human rights and democratic values in Afghanistan. They are the beacons of hope for a more peaceful future. We will not abandon them.
Despite many obstacles, it has already been possible to evacuate more than 70% of those who are in need of special protection and have been granted permission to enter Germany. This would not have been possible without the active support of civil society. We are working at full stretch to enable more people to leave Afghanistan. Shortly, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser and I will present the federal admission programme, which will focus on those most at risk – in particular women and girls.
However, this is about more than getting people out of Afghanistan. Those who remain also need urgent help. That is why Germany has again increased its humanitarian assistance for people in Afghanistan.
If we are to learn from our past mistakes, a full investigation is absolutely essential. I am glad that the Bundestag has set up a committee of inquiry as well as a study commission. I would like to thank all those who worked with such dedication on the evacuation of German nationals and local employees last August.
We will not under any circumstances recognise a regime which rides roughshod over human rights. However, we must not forget the people of Afghanistan – even a year after the Taliban seized control.