The United States will withdraw almost completely from Afghanistan at the end of the year, but for many of the Afghan interpreters that served alongside U.S. combat troops, their tour of duty is far from over.
Afghan interpreters who helped American soldiers through more than a decade of combat are being left to die at the hands of the Taliban, as detailed in a new, multi-part documentary by Ben Anderson of Vice News.
Thousands of Afghan allies who lived, worked, and dodged Taliban fire side by side with American soldiers, under the promise that they would be eligible for U.S. visas after their service are facing increasing threats from enemy combatants as American troops withdraw, advocates say.
The series says 80% of Afghans who formerly interpreted for U.S. troops are unable to acquire a visa to come to the United States. It details their life-threatening concerns in Afghanistan. “Interpreters have become a very big target of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger told Reason.com. “There’s been a lot of beheadings of people that have worked with the West.”
Those who apply for U.S. visas have frequently found their applications stuck in opaque bureaucracy of the State Department and other government agencies, often for years. Recent reforms have helped speed up the process, the State Department has issued nearly all of the visas it was allotted by congress for Afghan interpreters in 2014, but advocates say more needs to be done.
With the U.S. planning to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, many of these vulnerable interpreters may be left on their own. Even those who do receive visas to come to America, with the promise of three months rent, furniture, and employment, are often neglected. Read more about the story here.