US firm to help track down Afghan interpreters

Defence minister gets Mission Essential Personnel to agree to reach out to the 37 interpreters it hired for the Danish forces and who could be entitled to asylum

The American firm that hired Afghan interpreters for the Danish forces has agreed to help the Defence Ministry track them down.

In May, the government offered to help the almost 200 interpreters who were hired to assist the Danish forces and whose lives may now be at risk after the withdrawal of Danish forces. Depending on the level of risk they face, the interpreters could either be offered help in Afghanistan or the opportunity of asylum in Denmark.

While 17 interpreters have applied for help, the government had no information about the identities of 37 interpreters who were hired through the US firm Mission Essential Personnel (MEP).

MEP had previously ignored Defence Ministry requests for information about the interpreters but today, the defence minister, Nicolai Wammen (Socialdemokraterne), announced from Washington that he had made a deal with the head of MEP.

“If Afghan interpreters approach the Danish authorities and say that they have worked for us through the Americans we can now check if that is right,” Wammen told DR Nyheder. “And if it is correct that we can quickly start to process their case.”

Wammen is in the US to meet with US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel, but took the time to reach out to MEP after announcing that resolving the issue of the Afghan interpreters was his ministry’s top priority.

“I think the military and my predecessor’s efforts to get in touch with the firm have been good,” Wammen said, referring to the former defence minister, Nick Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne). “But as minister, I decided to push the issue.”

MEP has agreed to provide information about the interpreters to the Danish government as well as to reach out directly to the interpreters and inform them of their rights to seek help from the Danish authorities.