Several dozen interpreters who worked for the Dutch military effort in Afghanistan are still living in danger in their home country, despite government pledges to bring them to safety, Trouw reported on Wednesday.
People who worked as interpreters are regarded as traitors by the Taliban but not all of them were moved to the Netherlands by the time the Dutch pulled out last month, the paper said.
Trouw is in contact with two Afghans who still reside in the country and who worked for the Dutch. One of them worked as an interpreter, translator and liaison officer for the European police training scheme EUPol, the other worked as a security guard for the Dutch and as an interpreter for the Hungarian military.
The man who worked for EUPol is still waiting to be told if he can come to the Netherlands, while the security guard and interpreter has been refused entry, Trouw said. Working as a security guard does not fall under the interpreters’ scheme.
Parliament agreed in 2019 that interpreters who worked for the Dutch army should automatically be given a visa and allowed to apply for asylum once in the Netherlands.
However, the defence ministry told the paper that the majority of interpreters still waiting for a ruling only submitted their applications last month. In addition, more applications are being made all the time, including some by people who never worked for the military, the ministry said.
Trouw says that at least 70 of the 273 interpreters who are officially said to have worked for the ministry are still in Afghanistan along with their families.
Former advocate general Jan Gras, who spent three years working with EUPol in Afghanistan, told Trouw every Afghan who worked for the peace keeping mission is in danger, and that includes police officers as well..
The Dutch claim that they don’t know who worked for them is ‘total nonsense’, he told Trouw.
‘The Netherlands had a major role in the EUPol mission. We were the biggest group and they were proud of it in The Hague. The Afghans who worked for EUPol were employed by the European Union and in Brussels they know who was on the payroll.’
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