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Dutch get 35 citizens out of Afghanistan after chaos holds up evacuations

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By Reuters

AMSTERDAM -The Netherlands managed to get 35 of its citizens out of Afghanistan on Wednesday in a slow start to its evacuation operation amid chaos outside Kabul airport, Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld said.

The Dutch aim to evacuate a total of 1,000 local embassy workers, translators and their families from Afghanistan following the seizure of the capital by Taliban insurgents.

An evacuation effort on Tuesday evening failed as a military plane operated by the Dutch and other nations left Kabul without anyone destined for the Netherlands aboard after U.S. forces, struggling to control panicky crowds, denied Afghans access to the airport even if they had the correct credentials.

The situation seemed to have improved on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said in a debate in Dutch parliament.

“We still get mixed messages, but Afghans now also seem to be allowed to reach the gates of the airport. We will now try to get local staff, translators and their families on Western military planes as soon as possible. The U.S. allows this.”

The 35 Dutch were flown to Tbilisi in Georgia along with 16 Belgians, two Germans and two British citizens, Bijleveld said, on a Boeing C-17 plane operated jointly by NATO countries.

More than 2,200 diplomats and civilians have been evacuated from Afghanistan on military flights, a Western security official said on Wednesday.