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Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag resigns over Afghanistan crisis

<i>Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>Afghans gather on a roadside near the airport in Kabul on August 20
AFP via Getty Images
Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images
Afghans gather on a roadside near the airport in Kabul on August 20

By Katharina Krebs and Majlie de Puy Kamp, CNN

Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag announced her resignation on Thursday after a majority of the Dutch parliament said she had mishandled the Afghanistan evacuation crisis, a press officer from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CNN.

Tens of thousands of foreigners and Afghans who were associated with international organizations were airlifted out of Kabul last month after the Taliban seized control of the country on August 15. But many other vulnerable people were left behind in the course of a chaotic evacuation operation, prompting criticism that Western powers had let down many of those who had worked with them over the past two decades.

According to the ministry, a debate took place in the Dutch parliament on Wednesday about the crisis in Afghanistan and the evacuation efforts. A motion was drafted that condemned the cabinet’s handling of the situation.

“Such motions do not require immediate resignation, it was Sigrid Kaag’s own decision to resign,” said the press officer.

In a statement, Kaag wrote that she stood by what had happened in Kabul, but accepted responsibility for the body’s determination.

“Parliament finds that the government acted irresponsibly. Though I stand by our efforts, as the minister holding final responsibility, I cannot help but accept the consequences of this finding. In my interpretation of democracy and the culture of our government, a minister needs to step down when their policies are rejected,” she said.

“Our efforts in Afghanistan will continue without me. I am convinced that Foreign Affairs and Department of Defense staff will keep up their excellent work,” Kaag added.

Dutch military planes carried about 2,100 people from Afghanistan to neighboring countries in the last two weeks of August, and almost 1,700 of them had the Netherlands as their final destination, according to Reuters.

But hundreds of Dutch citizens, many of Afghan origin, and an unspecified number of Afghans whose work meant they were at risk were unable to reach the airport to be flown to safety, the news agency said.

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Reporting contributed by CNN’s Emily Smith in Atlanta.

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