Officer Slams Germany’s Kabul Evacuation Efforts

BERLIN (Reuters) -
A U.S. Marine calms a toddler during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, Sunday. (U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/Handout via REUTERS)

A German army officer trying to help Afghans at risk from the Taliban to flee their country has launched a blistering attack on Germany’s evacuation efforts.

Cpt. Marcus Grotian told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday that he was “overwhelmed by disbelief at the way Germany’s governing parties and politicians disregarded warnings” about the Taliban advance and accused Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office of failing to step in when needed.

Grotian, who heads a network of volunteers trying to help locals who worked for German institutions in Afghanistan, said some 6,000 Afghans are still waiting to be evacuated and many likely won’t make it.

“There will be many, too many human tragedies to come,” he said. “That’s absolutely clear.”

Grotian accused German officials of creating a dysfunctional bureaucracy that is making incomprehensible decisions about who can board evacuation flights and who can’t.

“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes a person who was never on a list is let through, sometimes a person who has been on our lists or those of the military command for six weeks is still turned away,” he said.

Grotian recounted one incident earlier Tuesday in which an Afghan woman who had worked for Germany’s foreign development agency four years ago was barred from entering Kabul airport.

He said the mixed messages being sent to Afghans by German bureaucrats would likely mean some will miss other opportunities to leave the country because they are still waiting for Germany to evacuate them.

“Everyone who has worked for Germans must now be let through, because there won’t be many more chances,” said Grotian. “They’ve been rejected three times, some of them four. There may not be a fifth when the planes don’t fly anymore.”