Many Afghan interpreters who worked with NATO forces and the international coalition are now afraid for their lives as they have been abandoned by the US and foreign troops and left to live in constant fear of being persecuted in Afghanistan. Sputnik met up with some of them for a candid interview.
After the partial withdrawal of US, NATO and ISAF forces from Afghanistan in 2014, many Afghan interpreters who worked with NATO and the international forces received permanent or temporary residence visas and moved to countries such as the United States, Germany, France and Sweden. However, some of them, for unknown reasons, could not obtain the visas and were forced to stay behind in Afghanistan.
Mahmudullah Mohammadi is one of NATO's former translators. He worked for two years with the German military, which trained the Afghan Army and police in the province of Kunduz.
“During that time I worked with the German military, helping them train the Afghan Army and police. I also participated in a number of military operations. After the Germans left Kunduz, I, like dozens of other translators, applied for asylum and my request was approved, but I wanted to go with my family,” Mohammadi told Sputnik.
He further said that after many hardships such as thorough document checking and interviews, his asylum request was rejected for unknown reasons. He now lives in constant fear in the Kunduz province.
“Because I worked with the foreigners, I cannot appear in my or even in the neighboring counties, since everyone knows me in person. All the neighbors and friends say that everyone who worked with foreigners has left with them and if I have stayed behind then I must be a spy,” Mohammadi said.
Mohammadi accused NATO of a double game saying, “If they had decided to help their translators, why did they take a part of them with them, and leave the other part to the mercy of fate to live in this nightmare?”
Another interpreter Sahi Ibrahimi also worked with German coalition forces in Kunduz from 2009 to 2013.
At present he considers his position to be "hopeless" because after the departure of the German units from Kunduz, he applied for asylum in Germany three times but was refused.
The reason for the refusal was not explained, but since he worked as a military interpreter and accompanied the coalition forces in a number of large operations, he is now considered a spy and lives in constant fear for himself and his family.
On top of that he has been jobless and has no way to earn a decent income.
“They not only did not help me as a former interpreter, but they also deprived me of new jobs and earnings. I have a wife and a child and I do not know what to do: either to commit suicide, or to sit and wait for the Taliban to kill me. I do not see a way out,” Ibrahimi said.
Ahmad Khaled is an interpreter from Kabul, who for two years accompanied Turkish troops in the framework of the NATO mission. He, like the other interpreters, is forced to hide.
“Turkey's activities in Afghanistan were mainly connected with training the Afghan Army, PRT programs for building schools and bridges and demining the terrain. In Afghanistan, anyone who cooperated with NATO is viewed as a person who worked for foreigners and that makes him an infidel,” Khaled said.
He said that he has no money to leave the country, while the visa application process for former translators requires a special procedure that needs the guarantee of an American, but is decided by the country with which the translator worked.
Considering that Khaled worked with the Turkish side the US sent a request to Turkey to take out translators who worked with the country, but the Turkish side rejected the proposal and left Khaled to the mercy of his luck.
As the situation in Afghanistan remains unstable these poor interpreters are living in constant fear of being persecuted by either the Taliban or given away by their own people to the Afghan security forces.
It seems that their previous employers have completely forgotten all about them and the promises of security that were made to them and their families.