It was on August 21st that the Vanuatu Daily Post first reported that a family of Afghan origin, the seven members of which hold ni-Vanuatu citizenship by virtue of their previous participation in the Development Support Program (DSP), had formally requested evacuation assistance from Vanuatu’s embassy in Brussels.
Vanuatu has no diplomatic mission in Afghanistan. Indeed, Vanuatu’s nearest (as the crow flies) diplomatic stations to Kabul are the consulates in Kuala Lumpur or Beirut. While Vanuatu has indicated it is treating the request with due seriousness, its practical ability to offer assistance is limited. According to the ni-Vanuatu government, the family had initially reached out to Vanuatu through the diplomatic mission of a third-country, which did have a presence in Afghanistan.
The government has therefore called on its major development partners for support in the affair. On August 25th, following a meeting to discuss the matter, Vanuatu’s Council of Ministers instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade to formally seek the assistance of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand to repatriate the family in question by August 31st. Last week’s suicide bombing at Kabul airport had disrupted evacuation plans, the Director of Foreign Affairs told Vanuatu Daily Post yesterday.
A confidential source told IMI that the Embassy in Brussels had been able to arrange for a rendezvous point for the family but that it had since lost contact with them.
127 Afghan nationals – about 50 families – have obtained citizenship in Vanuatu through its citizenship by investment program. A minority of these are believed to reside physically in Afghanistan.
James E. Harris, the Honorary Consul for Vanuatu to the United Kingdom in London, provided IMI with a statement with the latest updates today:
“The Vanuatu Honorary Consulate in London is liaising with Vanuatu’s Embassy in Brussels to offer support for Vanuatu Citizens who may have been impacted by recent events in Afghanistan – and particularly Afghan Nationals who have been granted Vanuatu Citizenship under the Development Support Program (DSP).
So far, one family has reached out to Vanuatu’s Mission in Brussels with a request for assistance. The Charge D’Affairs has been coordinating with US and European channels to seek repatriation support for our nationals and has made efforts to connect the family concerned with the US representatives we are in touch with. As of now, we have had no further contact with the family and are awaiting their further situational update.
The situation in Kabul itself has deteriorated rapidly in the past week and as the Airport is no longer functioning as an exit gateway, there is little further we can do for now except wait and remain ready and willing to support our Citizens through our offices in Brussels, London and Dubai.
Should any Vanuatu Citizen require Consular assistance, they can reach out to us at email@example.com.”
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.