The Irish Defence Forces today said their mission in Kabul, Afghanistan is a "complete" not long after Minister for Defence Simon Coveney provided more details about the dangerous evacuation mission.
“The ARW [Army Ranger Wing] have successfully completed their deployment, supporting the @dfatirl ECAT [Emergency Consular Aid Team] operation in Kabul," the Irish Defence Forces (Óglaigh na hÉireann) said on Friday, August 27.
"Our highly trained operators provided security & assistance throughout this highly complex mission.”
Mission Complete…..— Óglaigh na hÉireann (@defenceforces) August 27, 2021
The ARW have successfully completed their deployment, supporting the @dfatirl ECAT operation in Kabul. Our highly trained operators provided security & assistance throughout this highly complex mission.@IRLDeptDefence #StrengthenTheNation 🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/aS1CkArAkh
The tweet comes the day after Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the “pre-planned process of the withdrawal of our Emergency Consular Aid Team (ECAT) mission to Kabul” had begun and was to continue throughout Thursday.
Also on Thursday, Ireland's DFA advised against remaining Irish citizens and residents in Kabul and beyond coming to or remaining at Kabul Airport as gates are no longer open.
Earlier on Thursday, two suicide bombs were detonated near Kabul Airport, causing dozens of fatalities, including 13 US service members and at least 79 Afghans.
Speaking on Friday, Simon Coveney, who serves as Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, spoke with RTE Radio’s Morning Ireland about the “dangerous” mission.
Coveney defended Ireland’s decisions surrounding the rescue mission, which he said relied on the evidence that was available at the time.
“We sent 11 people into a very dangerous situation - nine of them very well trained Army Rangers and two of our most experienced diplomats, and they did fantastic work, humanitarian work, compassionate work by getting everybody that they possibly could," the Minister said.
Coveney said the "most difficult task" was getting people from the streets of Kabul into the airport, and noted the "fantastic support" other countries, notably France and Finland, provided to get the people onto planes.
Coveney said all of the decisions that were ultimately made will be reviewed in the coming days, and noted that there is “ongoing work” to be done to assist Irish citizens and Afghan citizens who are Irish residents who are still “trapped” in Afghanistan.
“I think the decisions we made were the right ones, they involved risk, but that risk paid off. People are now safely on their way home. We got an extra 26 people out.”
He continued: “We got all effectively except one of the single Irish people who are working for agencies across Afghanistan out,” Coveney said, adding that trying to move family units out was much more complicated.
Ultimately, a French flight with several Irish Army Rangers and one Irish diplomat and a separate Finnish flight with more Irish Army Rangers and the other Irish diplomat left Afghanistan on Thursday.
Minister Coveney said 60 Irish citizens and or family members of Irish citizens, and 15 Afghans who are normally residents in Ireland but are being effectively treated as Irish citizens remain in Afghanistan.
“The truth is, this is going to be an effort that many, many countries are involved in. It will be an international community effort to ensure that foreign nationals who are in Afghanistan, who want to get out, will be facilitated in doing that and that is going to be ongoing work in the days and weeks ahead.
“In the immediate future, I think we’re going to see a focus on exiting Kabul Airport safely. A lot of countries have already left - Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, I think you’ll see France and the UK leaving probably today, Spain have also announced that they’re out.
“In truth, the operations to evacuate civilians out of Kabul Airport have effectively closed now. The Americans may make their own strategic decisions in relation to small numbers of people, but effectively, Kabul Airport is in the process of being shut down and it will be predominantly military personnel that will be leaving in the coming days.
“That is why we stayed there as long as we safely could and managed to leave on a French flight and a Finnish flight yesterday - again, two countries who have been hugely helpful to our efforts.”
The dangerous Irish mission in Afghanistan comes just before Ireland's month-long role as President of the UN Security Council begins on September 1.