The Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan bragged about the diplomatic staff’s emergency preparedness in 2019, two years before he closed the embassy and fled the country while leaving thousands of Canadian citizens still trapped in Kabul.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Amb. Reid Sirrs, who was then the director general of security at the Department of Foreign Affairs, detailed the emergency management training provided to consular staff in testimony to the Senate foreign affairs committee.
“We have regional emergency management officers who travel the world,” testified Sirrs.
“We cover approximately 70 missions a year with exercises,” said Sirrs. “In those exercises, everyone at the mission has an opportunity to participate in whatever the event is.”
“If you’re dealing with Barbados, we’re talking about hurricanes,” he said. “If you’re dealing with Afghanistan, you’re talking about a terrorist attack of some type. These exercises prove to be very valuable for informing our emergency management plan.”
Cabinet appointed Sirrs to the Kabul post last October 14. “We constantly adjust according to the evolving circumstances at the mission, as well as preparing people themselves,” he said. “You can make mistakes and learn how you’re going to respond or react under certain circumstances.”
Sirrs left Afghanistan when the Canadian embassy “suspended its operation” on August 15, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs. At that point there were around 8,000 Canadian citizens and Afghan allies still stuck in Afghanistan as the Taliban took over.
A total of 3,700 were rescued, with the last Canadian rescue flight departing from Kabul on August 26.
“There are many Canadians and vulnerable Afghans who supported Canada’s efforts who remain in Afghanistan,” Foreign Minister Marc Garneau told reporters Friday, according to Blacklock's.
The embassy had been aware of the upcoming withdrawal of American troops for at least four months. The Department of Foreign Affairs has still not explained why it failed to prepare for the emergency evacuation of Canadian citizens and vulnerable Afghans from the country.