MPs demand Dutch Army’s Afghan interpreters be allowed to live in NL
Various parliamentarians are calling on the Dutch government to hurry up and bring the Afghan interpreters who worked for the Dutch army, and are therefore in life-threatening danger now, to the Netherlands. The Tweede Kamer will debate this matter with Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld on Wednesday.
Western armed forces have made frequent use of Afghan interpreters since the start of the war against terrorism after the attack on the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001. The plan is that Western troops leave Afghanistan by the end of this year. The Taliban threatened to kill interpreters who worked with Western armies in Afghanistan, as well as their families.
Some interpreters who worked for other armies have already been murdered, Anne-Marie Snels, former chairman of military union AFMP and advocate for the interpreters, said to RTL Nieuws. "They are seen as collaborators."
The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, wants the cabinet to bring the interpreters who worked with the Dutch army and their families to the Netherlands before the army leaves Afghanistan. "It is not going fast enough. It is a matter of life and death for people who have served in the Dutch armed forces," D66 parliamentarian Salima Belhaj said to the broadcaster.
"Time is ticking, so this can't go fast enough. Those people are threatened with death," VVD parliamentarian Jeroen van Wijngaarden said. "I think the Dutch cabinet should do everything in its power to bring that defined group of interpreters who have been essential for our security to the Netherlands, if they want to come."
"It involves a few hundred people who have committed themselves to the Netherlands. It is really our duty to allow our interpreters to travel safely to the Netherlands with their families. I don't feel that the Minister of Defense is really doing her best," SP parliamentarian Jasper van Dijk said to the broadcaster.
According to Snels, the Netherlands is making it nearly impossible for interpreters to come here. "The interpreters, for example, have to request papers and hand them over to the Dutch embassy in the capital Kabul. That is almost impossible, because 40 percent of the country is in the hands of the Taliban. Travel is dangerous because there is a price on the head of interpreters."
Other countries are doing much more, Snels said to RTL. "For example, France decided a few weeks ago that they will have to fetch Afghan interpreters and other people who are at risk by plane. The Netherlands is the worst kid in the class. We are the last to have an arrangement and there is no evacuation plan ready yet, while other countries are already evacuating."