Berlin urged to speed up resettlement of Afghans who worked for the army | Germany
The German government is under pressure to speed up the process by which hundreds of Afghans who worked for the military can resettle in Germany as they fear for their lives if they remain in their home countries.
High-ranking representatives of the military, politics, development aid and the diplomatic corps have joined a call on the German government stressing the urgency to act before the withdrawal of international troops next month.
“As troops have long prepared for their return, under heightened security measures fears of locally hired Afghans are growing,” said the letter, which was organized by the director of the independent think tank Afghanistan Analysts Network based in Berlin, Thomas. Rutter.
It is estimated that 520 Afghans who are currently working or who have worked closely with the German Army, Bundeswehr, in Afghanistan over the past two years, as well as members of their immediate family, are potentially eligible for resettlement, s ‘They can prove in their claim that they have been threatened by the Taliban because of their association. They generally worked as interpreters, drivers, security guards and administrators.
But activists argue that the eligibility deadline must go back further than the past two years and that applicants should not have to provide their own individual proof that they have been threatened, as the government currently requires.
Germany has been involved in military operations in Afghanistan since 2001 and has stationed just over 1,000 troops there.
Government sources quoted by German media said the 520 have submitted “danger notices” to government authorities in Afghanistan and have set up contact centers in Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul, where Afghans who have worked with Germans can submit a visa application. The location of the centers has not been made public for security reasons, which, according to the applicants’ supporters, serves to underscore the potential danger in which the Afghans find themselves.
The signatories of the letter include two former German ambassadors in Afghanistan, the former Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, leading aid workers and Marcus Grotian, a German army captain who served in Afghanistan and is chairman of the network. sponsorship of the local Afghan labor force. He told German broadcaster ARD: “It is not a question of whether someone is wronged, but whether they risk death.”
The group also criticized the government’s insistence that those affected organize and pay for their own travel and recommended instead that Afghans be evacuated from the country by specially organized flights under military protection before its withdrawal.
A German relocation policy has been in place to relocate Afghan workers since 2013, after it was decided that the Bundeswehr would withdraw from Kundus in the north of the country. The government has brought around 800 local workers in Germany to safety, but has come under fire for failing to help hundreds more.
The German government was also keen to stress the importance for Afghans to stay in their home country as much as possible, to help its development, for which it provides grants for vocational training and education.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week underlined the government’s commitment to support former local army workers. A spokesperson said: “The government takes concerns about local Afghan hiring very seriously,” and said applications were being handled in a “swift and flexible” manner possible. In the case of an individual found to be in danger, “it will be possible for local workers and their family nucleus to be quickly admitted to Germany”.
The Taliban have widely characterized the Afghans who have been in the pay of foreign military “traitors” and “unbelievers”, “slaves of the invaders” or “collaborators” of the West. Many of those who remained in the country complained of regular threats they and their families face, and the killings and torture of former employees have been well documented.
The Taliban issued a statement on Monday urging those who had worked with foreign forces to stay in Afghanistan after NATO troops left. He said those who had supported the non-Afghan army over the past two decades would not be “in danger” as long as they “felt remorse” and “did not engage in such activities in the future. “. He urged those with skills to volunteer, stay and “serve” their country.
The group added: “If they are using danger as an excuse to bolster their bogus asylum case, then it is their own problem. “
The German government is reluctant to give too much publicity to the relocation program, not least because of political sensitivities surrounding its program to deport Afghans who have arrived in Germany as refugees but who are at risk of being deported after their applications. asylum have been rejected, sometimes because they have been involved in criminal activity.
He is prudent not to want to undermine his own argument that he is now safe to return to Afghanistan. The last group was due to be returned to Kabul on Tuesday amid fierce protests from human rights groups.