Afghan interpreters, who worked with the Australian Defense Force, were awaiting protection visas a year after the Taliban takeover


Former Afghan interpreters who worked with the Australian military say their family members are still stuck in the area and at risk, nearly a year after the Taliban took control of the country.

More than 200,000 Afghans have applied for humanitarian protection in Australia since August last year, and almost half of them are still waiting for their applications to be considered.

The long delay has led an Afghan interpreter, who spent two years working alongside Australian Defense Force (ADF) troops based in Tarin Kot, to express regret about working with the ADF.

“We now regret even having worked for the Australian government because the impact of this is [inflicted] about our family members,” said the former performer, whom the ABC did not name to protect his family.

“We asked them ‘why did your family members work with the Australian military and the previous government’ and asked where we were – they were looking for us.

“I feel hopeless as no help has been given to my extended family and they have not been evacuated to a safer place like Australia.”

More than 6,000 Afghans have been granted humanitarian visas since the Taliban regained control, with priority given to locally recruited staff, women and ethnic minorities.

But many of this group are still in Afghanistan or neighboring countries on temporary visas.

Fears for the life of the former embassy guard

Glenn Kolomeitz, a former Australian army officer and lawyer who helps Afghans obtain visas, says some have already been injured.

“In the past 48 hours, we have had one of our former embassy guards removed and we expect him to be killed,” Mr Kolomeitz told the ABC.

“We expect his remains to be dumped in front of his house in the next few days. Those are the hardest facts.”

Former Australian Army officer and lawyer Glenn Kolomeitz said some family members of performers were at high risk from the Taliban.(Four corners)

Mr. Kolomeitz said the Taliban still targets people who have helped foreign forces in Afghanistan.

“The wife of one of ours died recently after moving from one shelter to another and being chased away,” Mr. Kolomeitz said.

Mr Kolomeitz said the family of an interpreter who died while serving with Australian troops is still languishing in a refugee camp in Texas, 12 months after being evacuated.

“One of their brothers was an Australian Army interpreter who was killed by a rogue Afghan Army soldier, alongside three Australian soldiers,” Mr Kolomeitz said.

“If anyone owes Australia protection, it’s this interpreter’s family.

Huge backlog of applications causing delays

The ABC contacted Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to discuss the reports, but received no response.

Earlier this week, Mr. Giles told SBS News that a task force has been established to focus on the resettlement of Afghan nationals.

“We are applying a tremendous amount of resources to this problem because it is a huge priority for the government,” he said.

Settlement Council of Australia chief executive Sandra Elhelw Wright said visa delays were due to a huge backlog of applications.

“That’s what happens with disputes like the demand for resettlement balloons and there aren’t enough places available for everyone who needs safety,” she told the ABC.

Ms Elhelw Wright said the 6,000 people who have been resettled over the past six months are already contributing to society.

“They talk about how optimistic they are about their life in Australia, but the main challenge for them is the worry they have about family overseas.”


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