The withdrawal of local forces from Sudan would set a precedent
After most Germans were expelled from Sudan, calls to rescue local workers grew louder. The comparison with Afghanistan is wrong, but the debate is fair. A particularly subtle scenario is possible in Mali.
RAnd the Bundeswehr has evacuated 500 people, most of them Germans, from Sudan since Sunday. Citizens of other European countries may also be rescued from war zones. A remarkable feat involving more than 1000 players.
The evacuation, armed if necessary, could theoretically continue until the end of May. The Bundestag will issue an order this week requiring the deployment of up to 1,600 soldiers. Most of the Germans who were in Sudan when the war began in mid-April are now safe. But according to the government message, one will rest only if the last citizen is saved.
It is reminiscent of the tense situation in Afghanistan two years ago. While the battle of power-hungry generals in Sudan does not have an ideological component for the Taliban to seize power, the issue also raises the question of the fate of local forces. In particular, the three-day ceasefire agreed on Monday evening has once again proved fragile. The New York Times reported low-flying military jets and gunfire, as well as “loud explosions” in several parts of Khartoum.
As an employer, Germany has a “duty of care” for local employees in Sudan in the event of a threatening situation, said Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael Roth (SPD). “Then the passport and appearance should not play a role,” Roth pleaded with RTL / ntv for an exit.
Baerbock does not need to be emptied
According to the narrow definition of the term local staff, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Sudan has about 100 employees, and the German Embassy has double-digit staff. However, when it came to the controversial handling of local auxiliaries by Germans in Afghanistan, public pressure eventually broadened the definition and employees of external service providers were sometimes taken into account.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbach (Greens) does not see the need to evict Sudanese local workers: “Unlike in Afghanistan, our local workers are not subjected to any special persecution.” This preference is not even expressed by the victims. Also, pay them regularly.
Such comments are likely to fuel the debate. Markus Grostian, head of the “Sponsorship Network of Afghan Local Employees”, spoke strongly on ARD for an evacuation. One does not learn from the experiences in Afghanistan, but fails to prepare programs and concepts for local staff in other crisis countries.
And there are many other conflicts on the African continent, especially in the Sahel region bordering Sudan. If you continue to think about the debate on local powers, from a German point of view, a subtle scenario can arise primarily in Mali. There, the Bundeswehr is preparing to withdraw its approximately 1,100 soldiers from Kaohsiung.
Hundreds of people have lost their jobs in Mali
With the Germans forming the largest group, it would greatly weaken the UN mission there, Minusma. Without Bundeswehr personnel and helicopters, Minusma patrols against Islamists and militants are restricted. Hundreds of Malian citizens work with German soldiers through suppliers. By narrow definition, there are no local employees, by broad definition, some of them do.
“Evacuation should definitely be considered if there is a serious threat,” said Ulf Laesing, head of the Sahel region program at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Currently, however, economic existential concerns dominate for these people in Kaohsiung due to the impending departure of the Germans. About 600 people lost their jobs when the French army left last year. Organized politically, they now use the UN to continue their work.
On the other hand, Lessing said he was not aware of any targeted security threats by Islamists against current or former allies of Western forces. “If Gao is violated, it should be reevaluated.”
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