Ottawa to speed up immigration applications of former Afghan interpreters threatened by the Taliban
|Toronto Star 23 Jul 2021 at 12:23|
Starting immediately, Ottawa will begin processing the immigration applications of Afghan interpreters and staffers who worked for Canadian forces but who are now in the path of the Taliban as American troops withdraw from the country.
Under tremendous public pressure amid an anticipated fall election, the Liberal government announced on Friday that it would expedite the resettlement of local former employees who risked their lives to assist Canada on its missions and whose lives are now in danger.
Applicants will be evaluated based on their “significant or enduring relationship” with Canada.
In recent weeks, the looming withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan has thrust the country back into violence, with Taliban insurgents moving to reclaim much of the territory left behind by retreating troops and unprotected by a weak elected Afghan government.
The local staffers who worked for the Canadian military during their missions there now say their lives are in danger because of their association with a foreign government.
“So many Afghan citizens put themselves at risk to assist Canada, both during and after our military mission in Afghanistan. Now they face even greater threats from the Taliban, and we are doing everything possible to bring them to safety,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in a statement.
“Lives hang in the balance, which is why we’re taking timely and decisive action to support the Afghans who supported Canada, and offer them a future in this country. Canada will do right by those who did so much for us.”
The government said the plan will include interpreters who worked with the Canadian Armed Forces, cooks, drivers, cleaners and locally engaged staff employed at the Embassy of Canada to Afghanistan, as well as their family members.
Applicants must have security, criminal and health clearances as well as a “significant or enduring relationship” with the Canadian government. It’s not clear how that relationship is being defined.