Press release | Date: 13/08/2021 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
‘The security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating rapidly and this is having a severe impact on the civilian population. We have therefore decided to temporarily close the Norwegian Embassy in Kabul and evacuate the staff. Responsibility for the safety of our employees is paramount under these circumstances. At the same time, we intend to continue our comprehensive engagement with Afghanistan,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The closure is temporary, and Norway will reopen the Embassy in Kabul when the situation allows. Similar actions are now being taken by several other countries.
Posted staff and locally employed staff to be brought to Norway
Members of the Embassy staff will be evacuated to Norway. This applies to diplomats posted in Kabul and locally employed staff members and their families who wish to leave. The Government has decided that Norway will allow locally employed personnel at the Embassy in Kabul to resettle in Norway to safeguard their safety.
‘We have to take responsibility for everyone working at the Embassy, and it has been important to ensure that the necessary framework was in place to bring our locally employed staff and their closest family members to Norway at the same time as we evacuate our diplomatic personnel,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
The Government has decided that the locally employed personnel being brought to Norway may be resettled under the resettlement refugee quota. There is close cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the immigration authorities on resettlement of the families to Norway. Clear guidelines for this have been drawn up, and can be found here.
Consular assistance no longer available
The Norwegian authorities have advised against all travel to and stays in Afghanistan for some time. Since 4 August 2021, we have urged all Norwegian citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country. It will not be possible to provide Norwegian citizens in the country with any consular assistance while the Embassy in Kabul is closed.
‘We know that the situation is difficult for Norwegian citizens who are in Afghanistan, and we will not be able to follow them up as we normally would while the Embassy is closed,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Norway to continue its engagement and support for Afghanistan
Recent developments in Afghanistan have been dramatic, and the international community is having to address a new situation in which the Taliban is taking control over large areas of territory, including major cities and population centres. The Taliban has a responsibility to uphold international humanitarian law and respect human rights, including the rights of girls and women and the right to education. Norway is communicating this message clearly to all parties to the conflict.
Norway has expressed deep concern about the high level of violence during the Taliban’s military offensive and has strongly condemned the use of violence against civilians and defenceless people. The same message has been conveyed by a unified UN Security Council, on Norway’s initiative. Together with the rest of the international community, we will continue to support political processes and put pressure on the parties to work towards a lasting peaceful solution,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
There has been a rapid deterioration in the security situation and the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. More and more people are in acute need of shelter, food and medicines. Large numbers of people have been forced to flee their homes and many have fled to neighbouring countries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in close contact with Norwegian humanitarian organisations, the UN Refugee Agency and the International Committee of the Red Cross to identify needs and obtain information about the planned responses.
‘This year, we have allocated NOK 1.5 billion to the World Food Programme and the UN Refugee Agency. This is NOK 800 million more than last year, and is intended to enable the NGOs to respond and provide assistance quickly, precisely in situations like the one now evolving in Afghanistan,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Afghanistan is one of the largest recipients of Norwegian aid. We are now assessing the need to re-target some of the funds to meet a broader range of the acute needs that are emerging.