Veterans, Afghan interpreters demand clarity, help as Taliban threat looms larger

Taliban threat looms larger

Afghan interpreters and Canadian veterans say the Immigration Department is failing Afghans who worked with Canada in the war-torn country, despite an announcement last week to fast-track their resettlement.

Rahim, who worked as an interpreter with Canadian soldiers via NATO in 2016-17 and whose full name is not being disclosed for safety reasons, says Taliban fighters burned his father's home to the ground on Monday in punishment for his service to coalition forces.

He is staying with relatives in Kabul and, like two other former interpreters The Canadian Press spoke with who are already in Canada, fears for the safety of his extended family as the Taliban seizes swaths of the country.

This morning the Immigration Department released an application form to be filled out within 72 hours, but veterans groups say it is not clear whether applicants' siblings, parents and extended family members under threat from the Taliban will be eligible for resettlement.

Organizations such as Not Left Behind say they have been swamped with emails and phone calls for help with a form that requires up to 10 different document scans, was published in English and demands Adobe Acrobat in a country with low literacy rates and patchy internet service.

Robin Rickards, a veteran who served three tours in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2010, said the government's form has "created chaos on the ground" and called for more details and clearer communication between the Immigration Department, veterans groups and Afghan staff.

The Immigration Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that the government's priority remains helping Afghan staff and their immediate families, but is "continuing to expand" the family reunification programs available to all immigrants.

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