Evacuation from Afghanistan: Local staff is not allowed to leave the country – despite valid documents

Evacuation from Afghanistan: Local staff is not allowed to leave the country – despite valid documents

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Evacuation from Afghanistan: Local staff is not allowed to leave the country – despite valid documents

Updated: 08/29/202109:11

An Afghan journalist who worked for the German armed forces for seven years has now been left behind at the airport in Kabul. The reason: One soldier thought his valid documents were forged.

Kabul – An Afghan journalist was about to be flown out and had almost made it onto the plane when a soldier at Kabul airport turned him back. He thought his valid documents were forged. In fact, the documents contained misspellings and an unusual letterhead, which in this case was used internally by the Bundeswehr, such as the mirrors reported. Only: Not everyone was informed about this.

Communication errors by the Bundeswehr could cost local staff their lives

The local employee had recorded PR videos for the German armed forces for seven years. The Afghan journalist also praised the NATO mission in front of the camera and criticized the Taliban. Now his life is in danger. Since 2018 he worked for an Afghan subcontractor and was no longer directly employed by the Bundeswehr. At first it was difficult to get an exit permit because of his outsourced contract.

As the mirrors and other German media reported on his case, that brought momentum to the matter: He got into the protection program for the former helpers of the Bundeswehr. The important e-mail came on August 24th: Germany had organized a bus transport to the military airport in Kabul “via a partner nation”. From there, the local employee will then be flown out to Germany, he said Mirrors-Report further. The document was signed “On behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany”. Shortly afterwards, the GPS data of the place where the buses left and a vital PDF document followed.

This is why errors crept into the valid PDF documents

In the PDF document, under the logo of the federal government, it was stated that the owner of the document was “entitled” to be brought to Germany. But when he showed the document at the checkpoint at the airport, the soldier thought it was forged and refused to let him fly. The Afghan journalist had to leave the security area immediately and was not allowed to explain himself. “I’ve worked for them for seven years and they don’t have a minute to listen to me,” he said, shocked in a video call with the mirrors.

It is now clear how the misunderstanding could arise: The letter was written very hectically and therefore contained spelling mistakes. The letterhead used does not exist. It was created by the operational command. Because the emirate of Qatar had organized the bus transport and requested a confirmation with which the people on the bus can identify. That was the reason why the PDF document was created by soldiers in the Potsdam headquarters under time pressure and sent to the local staff to be rescued.

However, the German soldiers who were deployed to check the document at the airport in Kabul were not informed of these circumstances. You therefore had to assume a fake. Those responsible call it a “tragic mistake”. The local worker left behind is still in Afghanistan. It is currently completely open whether it will be possible to leave the country. bme