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Merkel on Afghanistan — 'Bitter, dramatic and terrifying'

August 16, 2021

In her first press conference since the Taliban claimed victory in Afghanistan, the German chancellor warned of a pending crisis if those fleeing the country are not supported.

Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a press conference about Afghanistan
Merkel said there was a need to help Afghanistan's neighbors, where refugees are expected to arriveImage: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on Monday about the quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control.

"This is an extremely bitter development. Bitter, dramatic and terrifying," said the chancellor.

"It is a terrible development for the millions of Afghans who want a more liberal society," she said.

She paid tribute to the 59 German soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan, as well as those who were injured in action.

"I am thinking of the pain of families of soldiers who lost their lives fighting there. Now everything seems so hopeless."

Merkel said the mission had not been as successful as had been hoped.

The chancellor also told reporters that efforts would be made to offer support and refuge, particularly for Afghan support staff who helped the German military. She said the chaotic conditions in Kabul were making the operation "extremely difficult."

Merkel said aid would also be given to neighboring countries such as Pakistan, where it is expected many refugees are likely to arrive.

Scramble to evacuate citizens and staff

Her remarks come as Germany and several other countries scramble to evacuate their diplomatic personnel and local Afghan staff out of the main airport in Kabul.

Earlier, according to participants at a meeting of party members, Merkel said she believed the US decision to press ahead with the withdrawal was taken for "domestic political reasons" were partly to blame.

The leader of her party, Armin Laschet, went further, calling the entire Afghanistan operation a failure and the withdrawal "the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding."

Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.