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‘Afghan angels’ who risked their lives for Australian soldiers denied access to life-changing visas

Hundreds of Afghani aid workers who risked their lives to help Australian soldiers for two decades will be left to face the Taliban alone.

Local workers and their family members have been rejected from a special visa program, despite their efforts in Australian-funded ‘hearts and minds’ projects. 

One aid worker was sent a letter on behalf of Foreign Minister Marise Payne that made clear he would not be receiving the Locally Engaged Employee Visa.  

Hundreds of Afghani aid workers who risked their lives to help Australian soldiers for two decades will be left to face the Taliban alone 

One aid worker received a letter on June 21 on behalf of Foreign Minister Marise Payne (pictured) that made clear he would not be receiving the Locally Engaged Employee Visa

One aid worker received a letter on June 21 on behalf of Foreign Minister Marise Payne (pictured) that made clear he would not be receiving the Locally Engaged Employee Visa

The letter obtained by The Australian made it clear the man – who is in hiding with his wife and five children – would not be considered because he was employed by a subcontractor. 

‘The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has considered your application,’ the letter reads.

‘Unfortunately, you are not eligible for certification under this visa policy as you were not considered an employee of one of the Australian Government agencies identified in the legislative instrument.’

The aid worker, who helped deliver a $6.7 million AusAID infrastructure project in Afghanistan, will now be forced to join the off-shore asylum seeker queue.

The former Central Asia Development Group employee is among 50 Afghan aid workers who collaborated on the Children of Uruzgan flagship program ­delivered by Save the Children, who now face the same fate. 

They and their family members, plus 100 contracted security guards, will join the millions of Afghans desperately seeking safety on Australian shores. 

About 50 Afghan aid workers who collaborated on the Children of Uruzgan flagship program delivered by Save the Children, will be forced to join the millions of Afghans desperately seeking safety on Australian shores

About 50 Afghan aid workers who collaborated on the Children of Uruzgan flagship program delivered by Save the Children, will be forced to join the millions of Afghans desperately seeking safety on Australian shores

A letter (written in Pashto) was handed out to some interpreters making direct threats on their lives, including a father who worked with Australian troops in 2010 reading: 'Await your death very soon'

A letter (written in Pashto) was handed out to some interpreters making direct threats on their lives, including a father who worked with Australian troops in 2010 reading: ‘Await your death very soon’

About 200 Afghan interpreters who worked with Australian troops also await life-changing immigration rulings.

Murderous Taliban operatives placed many of the interpreters on ‘kill lists’ for working with ‘enemy infidel’ over the past 20 years of war.

A letter, obtained by the ABC, was handed out to some interpreters making direct threats on their lives, including a father who worked with Australian troops in 2010.

‘We are honest in our words and we will get you, be it day or night, and you will be punished, and we will reach our goal,’ the letter read. ‘Await your death very soon.’

The letter condemned one interpreter for his work ‘for a long time with infidel enemies of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as an interpreter and a slave’.

‘We have tried to kill you by hitting you with a vehicle, but unfortunately you did not die, only your leg was broken,’ the letter continued.

This chilling threat was a reference to a 2016 attack on the interpreter when he was out shopping.

‘My leg is broken [in] three places, when I open my eyes, I was in hospital,’ he said in a video filmed in his hospital bed at the time.

The translator was in 2016 run down with a car by Taliban operatives while he was out shopping, breaking his leg in three places

The translator was in 2016 run down with a car by Taliban operatives while he was out shopping, breaking his leg in three places

Retired Army Major Stuart McCarthy (pictured) described the aid worker's rejection letter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade as a 'death warrant'

Retired Army Major Stuart McCarthy (pictured) described the aid worker’s rejection letter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade as a ‘death warrant’

Incredibly, the translator’s application for a humanitarian visa in 2013 was rejected by then-Immigration Minister in 2018 on ‘character grounds’ – despite his risky work for Australian troops in the field. 

The Federal Court finally overturned the decision last May, finding Mr Dutton didn’t did not adequately consider the threat to the interpreter’s life. 

The Taliban continues to retake parts of the country, with the Afghan National Army left to stand their ground after the departure of Western troops. 

The anonymous aid worker, who cited security risks if his identity is revealed, said his work on the Uruzgan Municipal Infrastructure Program from 2011 to 2015 made him a sitting duck for the Taliban. 

‘I put my life at risk. It’s not just me, it is a risk for my family. If you were in my shoes what would you do? If I will die, the responsibility will be on the shoulders of the ­Foreign Minister,’ he said in a ­recording from Afghanistan. 

‘I did honest work for Australia, I tried my best, and I always tried to spend the funds provided by the Australian government honestly, I did not give it to the mafia, or share the funds… with the Taliban or terrorist groups.

‘They asked me several times and I said no.’ 

Retired Army Major Stuart McCarthy described the man’s rejection letter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade as a ‘death warrant’. 

'What we are saying to the world is if you work for Australia in a conflict zone, you could be left behind when the going gets tough,' Mr McCarthy said (pictured)

‘What we are saying to the world is if you work for Australia in a conflict zone, you could be left behind when the going gets tough,’ Mr McCarthy said (pictured)

The categories for eligible applicants for the visas date back to 2012, with the government choosing not to include contracted workers in the program

The categories for eligible applicants for the visas date back to 2012, with the government choosing not to include contracted workers in the program

Mr McCarthy said the failure to evacuate Afghans who were ‘vital’ to Australia’s counter-insurgency campaign would have long-term national security implications. 

‘What we are saying to the world is if you work for Australia in a conflict zone, you could be left behind when the going gets tough,’ he said. 

The categories for eligible applicants for the visas date back to 2012, with the government choosing not to include contracted workers in the program.  

The Department of Foreign Affairs said locally-engaged staff who worked with Australia and had a legitimate case for a visa would be provided the opportunity to be resettled in the country.  

The Home Affairs Department said it was ‘urgently processing’ Afghan LEE visa applications and confirmed 230 Afghans were granted visas since April 15, including workers’ family.


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