King Carl Gustaf inaugurates Forward Operation Base Monitor on April 15, 2011, two years before its scheduled closure, Photo: Atte Lonkari/Finska försvarsmakten/Scanpix
Fears for interpreters safety

Afghanistan interpreters out of work

Six local interpreters who have worked for the Swedish forces in Afghanistan are now without work and without protection following the closure of a military base in the country.

Although the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Sverker Göranson has said that says Sweden should offer asylum to interpreters whose lives are threatened in Afghanistan,  they are not eligible under present rules.

News agency TT reports an interview with a defence chief, who says that the Swedish military is working with the Migration Board to help those interpreters who are seen as at risk.

Sverker Göranson has argued for more solidarity with interpreters helping the armed forces in Afghanistan.

"They are seen as a part of the Swedish forces," he recently told Dagens Nyheter newspaper at Sweden's Mazar-i-Sharif base.

He said that if Sweden wants to recruit local staff overseas in the future, then they have to show that they are prepared to look after their welfare.

Last year the Migration Minister, Tobias Billström rejected any special treatment for interpreters with the Swedish military.

However Göranson said there is no doubt about the threat to interpreters' lives in Afghanistan and that Sweden needs to show "a degree of compassion" for them, now that the country is preparing to pull out.

Defence Minister, Karin Enström said she understood his concern but was surprised that he would put demands on the government regarding who has the right to asylum.

The Swedish military effort in Afghanistan will be reduced by 100 this year and  wound up completely during summer 2014.

After the summer of 2014, Sweden will only concentrate on training local security and police in Afghanistan.

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