Another 50 Afghan nationals who had worked with the Lithuanian Armed Forces in Afghanistan arrived in Lithuania on Wednesday afternoon.
“Another plane has just brought 50 Afghans and a third plane is expected today,” Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas posted on Facebook.
“Tomorrow, Operation Kabul 11 will be officially over and everyone will return to Lithuania, along with the last group of evacuees,” he said.
Lithuania has ten military personnel and a diplomat working in Kabul on the evacuation of Afghans who worked with its troops.
Fourteen Afghan interpreters with families, 50 people in total, were flown to Vilnius early on Wednesday and temporarily accommodated in the central district of Raseiniai.
Around 5,000 Lithuanian troops were involved in US-led and NATO missions in Afghanistan for almost 20 years between 2002 and 2021.
A total of 115 translators had contracts with the Lithuanian Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
Six Afghan nationals – a man who worked as a driver at the European Union Representation in Kabul and his family members – were relocated to Lithuania last week.
It was reported earlier that around 100 translators who had helped Lithuanian troops in Afghanistan, as well as their families, were awaiting evacuation to Lithuania, fearing repressions from the Taliban.
Smooth asylum procedure
Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė has vowed to ensure smooth asylum procedures for the Afghan families relocated to Lithuania.
“Obviously, they will go through different procedures as they are likely to be granted the refugee status. These are not economic [migrants] or people Lukashenko is using to put pressure on Lithuania,” the minister told journalists on Wednesday.
“I think everything will go smoothly and the Migration Department is ready to ensure that all procedures go smoothly and as effective as possible,” she added.
Lithuania to take in 200
Lithuania will take in up to 200 Afghans, the government decided on Wednesday, allocating around 600,000 euros for covering their needs.
“The draft resolution has been prepared in light of the difficult situation in Afghanistan [and] the threat to Afghan citizens who assisted the armed forces of Lithuania and other NATO member countries, and persons related to them by family ties,” the government resolution reads.
The document instructs the Defence Ministry to organise the relocation of up to 200 eligible Afghans to Lithuania and to provide for their needs once they are in the country.
“We already know the exact number, which is lower, but [the maximum number] is included [in the resolution] based on the Migration Commission's decision,” Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said after the cabinet meeting.
“The preliminary sum of money needed to resettle and accommodate Afghan citizens is 600,000 euros,” he added.