“Please don’t abandon us, don’t leave us to die in Afghanistan. Take us to your country. We and our families. Otherwise the Taliban will kill us. We will always be hunted down with the accusation of having cooperated with Italy ».
The request of the Afghan civilians who have worked with various tasks in the functioning of the Italian contingent in their country is back urgently topical. Appeal, however, launched in the editorial on Courier service of yesterday by Paolo Mieli. The most exposed are the interpreters, those who for years, some since the arrival of the first Italian soldiers in December 2001, have functioned as a direct point of contact between the soldiers and the local population.. Visible, known and therefore fragile, more at risk. The imminence of the dismantling of the large Italian base in Herat makes the problem increasingly on the agenda. The official numbers should be disclosed in the next few hours by the Minister of Defense himself, Lorenzo Guerini, but for some time there has been talk of about fifty interpreters with their families, in addition to other collaborators in various capacities. In all, about 500 people.
The Americans are already doing this. With the approach of 11 September, the final date for the withdrawal of the entire international contingent set two months ago by President Biden, they plan to take away with them about 18,000 people who have already applied for a special immigration visa which also includes quarantines and anti-Covid vaccines. The British have already authorized 450 visas. But broader evacuation programs on the American side are on the table, involving a massive visa campaign for 70,000 Afghans in addition to about 100,000 Iraqis. Experience, moreover, leads us to take the utmost precautions. According to the Red Cross and the major international humanitarian organizations, at least a thousand interpreters have been murdered in recent years who worked for the international contingents in Afghanistan and Iraq.. Yesterday the Taliban spokesmen issued a statement in which they affirm that “the interpreters and their families will have nothing to fear if they show that they have repented and feel remorse for their collaborative activities with invading foreigners”. But the fear remains, indeed, it grows with the increase in abuses against fundamental human rights, against women, in addition to the multiplication of attacks and targeted killings. The Taliban are expanding the regions under their control day by day and the local news does not seem reassuring at all. So much so that many interpreters have emigrated at their expense, especially to Iran and Pakistan, without waiting for the help of former employers.
The issue arose urgently after the first massive US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. In Afghanistan it appeared at the time of the change of the fundamental characteristics of the international NATO-ISAF mission at the end of 2014. From troops employed in the active fight against al Qaeda and gangs Taliban (in that period the Italian contingent between the region of Kabul and Herat came to count about 5,000 soldiers) became trainers of the new Afghan security forces. Apart from limited American and British elite corps that remained operational throughout the country, the bulk of the international contingent closed in to their bases to assist in the preparation of the Afghan army and police. Even the interpreters, therefore, were much less exposed than before. Yet, between 2014 and 2015, Italy also welcomed around 130 Afghans. At that time an initial amount of 750 million euros was allocated for their absorption. In particular, the recently retired general of the Alpini, Giorgio Battisti, did his utmost, who also publicly committed himself so that they would not be forgotten.
June 7, 2021 (change June 7, 2021 | 21:59)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED