AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands on Wednesday reversed course and said it would not deport Afghanistan citizens who are seeking asylum in the Netherlands for the coming six months, given the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country.
The decision seemed to contradict a letter that six European governments, including the Netherlands, sent to the European Union Commission last week insisting on the right to forcibly deport Afghan asylum seekers whose cases had been rejected..
In a letter to parliament, Dutch deputy Justice Minister Ankie Broekers-Knol said the Netherlands had planned to update its policy on Afghanistan in October but had made the decision now "in light of the quickly deteriorating situation" there.
The Taliban, fighting to re-impose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster from Kabul, have made sudden, strong gains in their campaign to defeat the government as foreign forces withdraw.
"The situation is undergoing such changes and developments and is so uncertain for the coming time, that I have decided to impose a freeze on decisions and deportations" in ongoing asylum cases, Broekers-Knol wrote.
A spokeswoman for the ministry noted that while last week's letter represented the government's view at the time, it had not conducted any forced deportations in the past half year, and had not had any planned.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Nick Macfie)