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PRESS RELEASE 65

Government has evacuated 3,900 Afghan collaborators over the last year including 300 who arrived at Torrejón today

 A plane from Islamabad landed at Torrejón Air Base this evening 
• The refugees were received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the State Secretary for Migration. José Manuel Albares said, “This flight is fresh evidence of our ongoing commitment not to leave anyone behind”
• A temporary transit mechanism is activated to document new arrivals and transfer them to the reception system 
• Another 63 Afghan collaborators arrived on 21 July within the framework of Operation Antígona III
August 10, 2022
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, and the State Secretary for Migration, Isabel Castro, received 294 Afghan collaborators this evening at Torrejón Air Base who recently left the country fleeing from the Taliban regime, which now brings the total number of people that Spain has evacuated over the last year to 3,900. The collaborators who arrived this evening flew in on a plane chartered by the Government of Spain that had left Islamabad Airport (Pakistan) a few hours earlier. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain stressed that “this has been possible thanks to the collaboration of my colleagues from the Ministries of Defence, of Home Affairs, of Inclusion, Security and Migration, of Health and, of course, of the Ministry of the Presidency”, and declared that “we were one of the last countries to leave a year ago and we still continue to work to ensure that no-one is left behind”. Hence, it can be said that Spain continues to show that it is a reliable partner that upholds its commitments to its allies”, remarked José Manuel Albares.
 
Since the organisation of the first evacuation flight on 15 August 2021, the Government of Spain has carried out three operations (Antígona I, II and III), which resulted in the transfer of 2,561 people a year ago and, together with those who arrived on 21 July and those who arrived this Wednesday, now exceeds 2,900.
 
In parallel to these special operations, the authorities have promoted the transfer to Spain of those former collaborators and other people of interest who have been able to reach neighbouring and close countries to Afghanistan by their own means. This amounts to 942 people in total, who have obtained international protection under Article 38 of the Asylum Act. This includes 314 women, 277 men and 345 children, who now live in Spain thanks to the work of the Spanish Embassies in Islamabad, Teheran, Abu Dhabi, Ankara, New Delhi, Nur-Sultan and Moscow. The diplomatic delegations have actively collaborated in the evacuation and transfer work of all these people, and continue to process applications from other Afghan citizens.
 
The total of almost 3,900 people evacuated by the Government of Spain includes, aside from former direct collaborators with our presence in Afghanistan, civilians who collaborated with other EU and NATO countries and diplomatic personnel, whose lives were at risk following the restoration of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Reception system

Of the total number of people who arrived under Operations Antígona I and Antígona II (reception operation coordinated by the Ministry of Inclusion between August and October 2021), 1,900 entered the system. This number has risen by 63 from among those who arrived on 21 July. In the facilities at Torrejón de Ardoz Airporta provisional transit operation has been deployed, as happened a year ago, to attend to and accompany the families following their arrival, following a protocol coordinated by the Ministry of Inclusion, through the State Secretariat for Migration, and in collaboration with professionals from the different ministerial departments.
 
The Afghan collaborators, upon landing and accompanied at all times, were documented by the police, received basic socio-demographic information, talked with UNHCR and Asylum and Refugee Office professionals to receive information on the rights granted under international protection and some were subjected to random health checks. Lastly, those who expressed the need to join the reception system were transferred to the corresponding accommodation the same evening. In this regard, Isabel Castro indicated that “the reception system is once again made available to these families to facilitate their gradual autonomy, along with their social and labour insertion. Throughout the process, we have worked with a roadmap of personalised integration”. The attention they receive is structured in two phases. The first is the reception system, which provides for their residency in places under the system while the second prepares them for their autonomy and provides support to cover their basic needs.
 
Spain also contributes to alleviate the delicate humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, with aid amounting to 33.8 million euros between 2021 and 2022, through the State Secretariat for Foreign and Global Affairs and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and the regional governments, and has committed a further 4 million euros for next year.

Exemplary participation of Armed Forces

A year ago, the Spanish Armed Forces played an exemplary role in the operation to rescue people from Afghanistan – the most important rescue mission ever carried out by our country – acknowledged by the national and international media and receiving various awards and recognitions from public and private institutions.
 
More than 2,200 Afghan collaborators and their families managed to reach our country from the turmoil in Kabul Airport over ten intense days at the end of August 2021, within the framework of an operation that was planned, deployed and executed in record time.
 
The crews of Ala 31 and personnel from the Air Deployment Support Squadron (Spanish acronym: EADA) of the Air and Space Force, the Special Operations Command (Spanish acronym: MOE), the Air Evacuation Medical Unit (Spanish acronym: UMAER) and the Civilian-Military Cooperation Battalion (Spanish acronym: CIMIC) of the Army’s ROI 1 took part on the mission, all under the instructions of the Operation Command (Spanish acronym: MOPS).
 
A total of 17 rotations of three Airbus A400 planes (Dubai-Kabul-Dubai), 10 Air Europa flights (Dubai-Torrejón) and the first A400 flight (Dubai-Torrejón) were made as from 19 August to help the maximum number of Afghan citizens out from Kabul Airport as the Taliban advance progressed.
 
In addition, at Torrejón Air Base, the Spanish Air and Space Force and the Emergency Military Unit (Spanish acronym: UME) set up a Provisional Transit Installation in just a few days to house the Afghan families evacuated upon their arrival in Spain.

Most of the more than 2,200 Afghans rescued were former collaborators (1,671) of the Spanish troops during the more than 20 years that the deployment to the country lasted, but the rescue mission also managed to get collaborators of the European Union, the United States, Portugal and NATO out of the country.
 
Subsequently, in October, a new evacuation operation was carried out through the deployment of two planes – one civilian and another military – which left Pakistan with 244 Afghan collaborators on-board that were unable to leave the country in the first phase in August. On 21 July, another military aircraft arrived with 63 Afghan citizens that took off from Islamabad – the capital of Pakistan – and landed at Torrejón Air Base, where they were received by the Minister for Defence, Margarita Robles.
 
The arrival of this flight on Wednesday with some 300 people on-board is the largest evacuation operation since last summer. To undertake this latest evacuation, the Operation Command (MOPS) deployed military teams to Pakistan, which served to coordinate and facilitate the diplomatic action of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.


-NON OFFICIAL TRANSLATION-​

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