Dutch Trade Unions and Others Join Forces in Action for Better Policy on Local Staff Missions

By Anne-Marie Snels, former AFMP Chairwomen

Everyone remembers the dramatic images of August 2021, when the Taliban took over Afghanistan in record time and thousands of people tried to flee the country in agony via Kabul airport.

Despite numerous warnings, the Dutch government took measures far too late, leaving many people who worked for the Dutch government and NGO’s behind. To elaborate more, the former AFMP president Anne-Marie Snels initiated an initiative on this regard supported by trade unions, veterans, veterans’ organizations and the Dutch Council for Refugees, but still actions came too late. Afterwards, this led to the establishment of a committee to investigate the role of the Dutch government with regard to the evacuation.

In the run-up to the 6th of October, the day on which the committee’s report was published, various defence trade unions, the trade union federation FNV, the Dutch Council for Refugees, Professor Sara de Jong and Anne-Marie Snels published an opinion in one of the largest Dutch newspapers on the 1th of October. The opinion is available here.

Consequently, parties make a number of urgent suggestions to politicians to improve policy for local people who work for the Dutch government on missions and embassies. After all, local personnel such as interpreters and guards are ‘the eyes and ears’ of soldiers on missions, they protect the safety of our people and vice-versa the government has a duty of honour to protect local staff as well. We must prevent another tragedy as terrible as that in Afghanistan from arising in the future.

Furthermore, on the  6th of October, the scathing report of the Ruys committee was published; the policy of the Dutch government has failed on all fronts, in the run-up to the evacuation signals, which were not taken seriously, during the period of evacuation and the period after, an incredible amount of things went wrong. The report is available here (an English summary is available from page 11).

To visually present the inquiry results, the committee also commissioned a video animation. The video can be viewed here.

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