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In Afghanistan, interpreters who helped U.S. in war denied visas; U.S. says they face no threat

Published: 11 November 2013

From the Washington Post...

KABUL — A growing number of Afghan interpreters who worked alongside American troops are being denied U.S. visas allotted by Congress because the State Department says there is no serious threat against their lives.

But the interpreters, many of whom served in Taliban havens for years, say U.S. officials are drastically underestimating the danger they face. Immigration attorneys and Afghan interpreters say the denials are occurring just as concerns about Taliban retribution are mounting due to the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Link to the full story here.

InterpretAmerica's Take: As Veteran's Day in the US draws to a close, we take a moment to honor veterans all over the world, active and retired, who have served in defense of their nations. Though frequently overlooked, the critical importance of competent translation and interpreting in conflict zones also cannot be overstated, nor can the danger to civilian contract interpreters who provide this service. Allied troops from across Europe and North America are drawing down and leaving Afghanistan. They leave in their wake thousands of Afghani civilian interpreters whose lives are now at risk for having "collaborated" with the occupying forces, a situation their Iraqi counterparts have also faced. Many governments have promised them visas and safe havens, and unfortunately, there is an accompanying global trend of governments not honoring those promises. The article we cite from The Washington Post is just one example of many others appearing around the world this week and over the past several years that detail the struggle and very real dangers these interpreters face. Our profession struggles with how to support and advocate for these individuals. We welcome your feedback and ideas for what we can do to help protect the safety and working conditions of those interpreters working in such high risk settings.


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