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Afghan interpreters for the EUPOL Afghanistan mission in a black hole

(B2) The situation of Afghan interpreters who worked for the EU mission 'EUPOL Afghanistan' faces a legal vacuum. Who will protect them?

Helped by their interpreters, the Europeans trained the Afghan police forces (EUPOL Afghanistan)

Who should protect them?

Because they were employed by the European Union, within this mission which took place from 2007 to 2016, the question now arises of who should protect them. Crucial question when objectively their lives can be endangered by the advance of the Taliban. Some countries, such as the Netherlands (1), only accept their request for asylum and repatriation to Europe if they have worked for nationals, as indicated in the daily Trouw which cites the concrete case of an interpreter, translator and liaison officer for EUPOL. However, he is still waiting to be decided on his fate.

Performers in danger

For former Advocate General Jan Gras, who worked for three years with EUPOL in Afghanistan, in the anti-corruption unit and then training senior Afghan police officers, every Afghan who worked for the peacekeeping mission peace is “ in danger ”, and that also includes the police, as he tells Trouw. " Anyone who has obviously worked closely with us is now at risk. I know from a cop that his car blew up, now he's trying to get out of the country »

Hundreds of people involved ?

The number of people affected could exceed XNUMX. " It's difficult to estimate », acknowledges Jan Gras. " But within EUPOL we had around a hundred people [who] all had a personal interpreter. […] When I worked for the anti-corruption unit, I had a personal interpreter who was always with me. I couldn't do anything without him. Afghans have also translated the lessons I taught and the programs I created »

A census in progress on the Dutch side

The government's excuse for not knowing who worked for them is " sheer nonsense " according to him. " Afghans who worked for EUPOL were employed by the European Union and in Brussels they know who was on the payroll. » The Dutch police and the Ministry of Justice and Security decided this week to take an inventory of the number of Afghans who worked for the police mission, are in difficulty today and want to come to the Netherlands.

Repatriation far from effective

For interpreters with the Dutch armed forces, the situation is clearer on a legal level, but far from being resolved, despite repeated commitments from the authorities. According to the Ministry of Defense, at least 70 interpreters and their families (out of 273 identified) are still in Afghanistan, awaiting authorization to come to the Netherlands, indicate our Dutch colleagues.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. The Netherlands was one of the countries most involved in the EUPOL Afghanistan mission.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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