Islamabad (dpa) -Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock travelled to Pakistan on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan and further evacuations of people in need of protection. Shortly after arriving in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, however, she cancelled all appointments after testing positive for Covid. The minister had originally planned to travel on to Greece and Turkey after her visit to Pakistan, which had been scheduled to last until Wednesday.
At the beginning of her visit to Pakistan, Baerbock had been received by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday morning. She then called on the international community not to forget the people of Afghanistan despite the Russian war in Ukraine. “We are facing a humanitarian catastrophe,” Baerbock warned. She added that people in Afghanistan must not be left to starve. “However, anything other than humanitarian aid must be strictly conditional,” Baerbock said, referring to the Taliban ruling there.
Since international troops withdrew in the summer of 2021, the militant Islamist Taliban have been back in power in Afghanistan. In recent weeks, the German government has brought an average of 200 Afghans to Germany via Pakistan each week. The Federal Foreign Office said at the end of May that they had been arriving in Germany on charter flights from Islamabad. It added that the exit route via Iran was also being used regularly to help local personnel who had worked for the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan, as well as particularly vulnerable persons who had been granted admission, along with their family members, to continue their journey.
Since the Taliban took power, German visa offices have so far issued around 18,600 visas for these groups of people, according to the Federal Foreign Office. When the last US soldiers were withdrawn from Kabul airport at the end of August 2021, this marked the end of the international Afghanistan mission after almost 20 years. Two weeks earlier, the Taliban had captured the capital Kabul without a fight because the Afghan security forces offered no resistance.