Written answers

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Foreign Conflicts

Photo of Violet WynneViolet Wynne (Clare, Sinn Fein)
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23. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if there are any Irish citizens still in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46869/21]

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
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25. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the ongoing efforts being made to assist Irish citizens to leave Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46097/21]

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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82. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the current status of efforts to bring persons from Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47116/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 23, 25 and 82 together.

Irish citizens and their direct dependents in Afghanistan currently number 50. The Department of Foreign Affairs is in touch with and providing consular assistance to this group, and since mid-August 58 Irish citizens and their dependents have safely exited from the country. Our support has included the short-term deployment of an Emergency Civil Assistance Team (ECAT), which enabled 26 Irish citizens and residents to evacuate safely on 24-26 August.

Efforts are ongoing to secure the safe exit of the remaining citizens and their dependents who wish to leave Afghanistan. Our Embassy network is playing a critical role in this, including working with partners in the region on transit routes. My Department also continues to liaise with the European External Action Service and EU Member States on information sharing and the management of repatriations.

The situation is complex and our priority remains ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our citizens. We will continue to provide consular support to those remaining in Afghanistan via our Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

In addition to providing assistance for Irish citizens and their dependents, Ireland is also supporting Afghans who are resident here to return to Ireland, as well as those qualifying for the Irish Refugee Protection Programme.

Vital to our work is the fulfilment of the Taliban commitment to allow the safe, secure, orderly and unhindered departure of foreign nationals and Afghans at-risk who wish to leave the country – in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2593.

The Council of the European Union has also made it clear that this is one of the key benchmarks for any future engagement with the Taliban-appointed caretaker cabinet in Afghanistan.

I know that there are many with deep concerns for family members, friends and colleagues who remain in Afghanistan. I can give full assurance that the Government remains strongly committed to doing whatever possible to ensure that people are able to depart safely, and return to Ireland, if they wish to do so.

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