Conflicts & War

Locals employed by US in Afghanistan plead for evacuation as troops pullout

Kabul, Jun 10 (EFE).- Hundreds of locals who have been employed by the NATO forces in Afghanistan urged Thursday United States President Joe Biden to evacuate them to a third country to save from from the Taliban as foreign forces prepare to pullout by September.

Members of the Afghans Left Behind Association, made up of interpreters, labors, contractors and sub-contractors who collaborated with the allied forces, gathered in Kabul criticizing the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) rules under which they were unable to secure a visa for the US.

“Lead us to safety. We must be appreciated for our services and not to be handed over to the enemy,” read pamphlets and banners carried by the protesters at a gym, where a closed-door demonstration was held due to security threats.

“Is there any guarantee from the United States government that the Taliban are not going to kill us and our families?” said Muhammad Shoaib, a former interpreter with the US forces, addressing the protest.

“It is time to make a decision and give visas to all those who supported the coalition forces, especially the United States army in Afghanistan and their families” he added, as he appealed to President Biden.

While the foreign forces prepare to leave the country by early September, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US that led to the invasion of Afghanistan, the country has witnessed a spiral in violence as the Taliban have sought to regain control of the country.

The situation has led to security concerns in the country as well as fears among the interpreters and locals who collaborated with the foreign forces that they would be targeted by the militants.

In this regard, the Taliban recently released a statement promising to not attack interpreters and locals who collaborated with the allied forces.

“The Taliban are saying one thing and doing another, we can never trust the Taliban, they will kill us and our family members,” Ayazuddin Helal, another interpreter who worked for the US forces, told EFE.

He said that seven interpreters who worked with the foreign forces had been killed in the past two weeks by the insurgents in different parts of Afghanistan, although EFE has not been able to independently verify this claim.

Most of the protesters were those whose SIV applications had been rejected by the US government for reasons such as being included in blacklists or watchlists, and not having appropriate recommendation letters from their US supervisors to qualify under the visa scheme.

“At sensitive times we supported them (the US and coalition forces) and even in some cases saved their lives, now it is their turn to support us and save our lives,” Helal said.

He added that around 24,000 Afghans have been trying to apply for an SIV, but there is insufficient time to process all the applications given that the foreign troops pull out in three months.

“We request Joe Biden to evacuate us to a third country and process our documents there, and then take us to the United States,” he said.

Most of the protesters claimed their lives were in danger and a large number of them had to move to Kabul from their respective provinces in order to save their lives.

“We can’t travel outside Kabul, Taliban going to kill us whenever and wherever they find us,” Muhamadullah, another interpreter, told EFE. EFE


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