Afghan interpreters who have worked for the Danish forces – and who may be entitled to asylum or financial assistance – have started to come forward, though none have yet been granted the opportunity to seek protection in Denmark.
According to the Ministry of Defence, 67 Afghan interpreters have contacted a Danish task force in Kabul made up of representatives of the Defence Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Immigration Service.
But of the eleven interpreters whose cases have been completed, none have been given visas to Denmark where they can formally apply for asylum.
“Decisions have been made to give two people economic compensation as they have had to relocate within Afghanistan, though none of the completed cases have resulted in providing a visa to Denmark,” the military states on its website.
The task force was established in August to help find Afghan interpreters who assisted Danish forces and who could now face reprisals after the withdrawal of international forces.
Amnesty International warned in March that Afghan interpreters could be targeted by the Taleban and called on the Danish government to let them apply for asylum.
The former defence minister, Nick Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), started to investigate ways to help Afghan interpreters who have worked for Danish forces and in May announced that interpreters could apply for protection through Danish case workers in Afghanistan.
By August, however, only 17 of the 195 interpreters who have worked for the Danish forces had so far contacted the Danish authorities.
It was also discovered that the identities and whereabouts of 37 of the interpreters was not known, as the American company who hired them, Mission Essential Personnel (MEP), had refused to supply any information about them. Information newspaper later revealed that the Defence Ministry had only sent three emails and made one phone call in its attempts to extract information from MEP.
Interpreters a top priority
Nicolai Wammen (Socialdemokraterne) took over as defence minister in August and announced that resolving the interpreter issue would be his top priority.
Wammen met with MEP in late August, and the American firm agreed to help Denmark track down the 37 interpreters. Wammen also set up the cross-ministerial task force to help process the interpreters' cases.
About a third of the interpreters have so far come forward and will be offered different levels of assistance – from the right to apply to asylum to financial help in relocating – depending on the level of persecution they face.