Only one week after Afghan interpreter Mohammed Rafi Hottak was denied asylum by the British Home Office, despite his injuries, 26 other Afghan interpreters are now pleading with the New Zealand Government not to abandon them to "certain death" when its troops withdraw next year.
26 Afghan interpreters are working for the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamiyan Province.
The New Zealand government has said the "PRT interpreters' concerns about their safety following the withdrawal of the PRT in April 2013" were acknowledged. The issue was under "active consideration" and any decision would rest with Cabinet.
Provincial Reconstruction Teams were introduced in Iraq as part of the “post-conflict effort to transfer the responsibility of security, governance, and economics to the indigenous people”. They were first set up in Afghanistan in 2002.
The projects in Afghanistan in which New Zealand PRTs have been involved include building health clinics, extensions to schools, training teachers, supplying furniture and school bags for boys' and girls' schools, providing solar power for schools, tents for villages, roof repairs for girls' schools, classroom heaters, footbridges, flood protection walls, wells, water pipes, spring containment and irrigation canals, hospital emergency room cabinets, micro-hydro plants, and text books for literacy centres – in short, in reply to the essential needs that we consider to be basic rights.
Interpreters are vital to all those efforts, in that they and they alone can help all the stakeholders understand the needs of the local people and define the best way of responding to them.
It is inadmissible that interpreters, wherever they are and whatever their status, who put their lives on the line in war zones – in particular in countries where equality between men and women, the most basic of human rights, is not respected – should be betrayed by their employers’ countries by not granting them asylum in return.
According to Inttranews
statistics, 1,249 interpreters have been killed or murdered in action since 2001.
PRTs are maintained in Afghanistan by Albania, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the Republic of South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the USA.
™ is a network of professional interpreters and translators with members in over 140 countries. The portal was included in the UNESCO Observatory on the Information Society in January 2006, and in the scope of ISO 9001 certification in March 2007.