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Lack of resources behind Afghan interpreter asylum rejections

Updated tisdag 22 december 2015 kl 20.21
Published tisdag 22 december 2015 kl 16.27
"You do not leave a comrade behind in a war zone"
(3:28 min)
Swedish troops were in Afghanistan as part of NATO-led forces. Photo: AP Photo/Sameer Najafizada/TT
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Swedish troops were in Afghanistan as part of NATO-led forces. Photo: AP Photo/Sameer Najafizada/TT
Callis Amid. Photo: Jesper Söderström
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Callis Amid. Photo: Jesper Söderström

Many interpreters who worked for the Swedish military in Afghanistan have been frustrated in their attempts to gain asylum here, despite claims they are threatened by the Taliban. Now the Swedish military says the reason is because it doesn’t have the resources to carry out proper application reviews.

Callis Amid of the Swedish veteran’s association Fredsbaskrarna (“The Peace Berets”) doesn’t accept that explanation:

“That is unacceptable,” he tells Radio Sweden. “The interpreters are out colleagues, and you do not leave a colleague left behind in a war zone. If they have that as a reason for not carrying out these security checks, then that’s where the Swedish government has to come in and help them.”

“It is shocking and shameful,” he told Swedish Radio News.

So far 23 former Afghan interpreters and guards have received asylum in Sweden as quota refugees through the UN refugee agency UNHCR. But at least 20 have not been as fortunate.

Eight of them met with former MP Tone Tingsgård, who is carrying out an evaluation of the mission in Afghanistan for the Swedish government, in Mazar-i-Sharif on December 12 to tell her about their work. They gave her a letter in which they appealed for protection for themselves and their families.

“The Taliban have put a price on the heads of everyone who has worked for foreigners. We worked for armed foreigners, that’s even worse,” former interpreter Amanullah Amani tells the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Swedish Radio News reports that it is the interpreters who worked for the Swedish military from 2014 onwards who have had the opportunity for asylum. Those who are not being considered for asylum stopped worked for Sweden before 2014, when the Swedish military mission in Afghanistan ended.

Jesper Tengroth, press secretary for the Swedish Armed Forces, tells the newspaper Dagens Nyheter “During the time we were in Afghanistan and the operation was underway we could protect these individuals…But with the ending of the mission we lacked the personnel resources to gather the information needed for a security evaluation..”

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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