Canada taking in Forces’ Afghan interpreters
By Beatrice Fantoni, Postmedia News July 15, 2011 4:42 PM
Afghan National Army Non-Commissioned Officer recruits march during a parade to mark a graduation ceremony at the Turkish-run Camp Ghazi in Kabul July 7, 2011.
Photograph by: Omar Sobhani, Reuters
The federal government will resettle hundreds of Afghans who worked as interpreters for the Canadian military mission in Kandahar, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Friday in Calgary.
A group of interpreters and their families — 56 people in total — have arrived since the special immigration program was first announced in 2009.
Interpreters working in Kandahar province for Canadian soldiers and officials faced serious risks and threats from insurgents as a result of their work, Kenney said at the time of the program’s announcement.
“There are Afghans who face extraordinary personal risk as a result of their work in support of Canada’s mission in Kandahar,” he said. “Their lives and those of their families may be threatened by insurgents, and some have suffered serious injury and can no longer work.”
Another 33 Afghan nationals are expected to arrive in Canada over the summer, and 130 more in the fall, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada told Postmedia News in an email.
The program allows for resettlement of 550 people in total and should wrap up in spring 2012, she said. There are 450 applications in the pipeline and to date, one in three of these applications has met the criteria, she added.
“We are expecting we’ll end up resettling 550 people who qualify for the program,” Kenney said Friday.
To qualify, an interpreter must have worked for the mission starting in 2007 for at least 12 months cumulatively. A detailed application demonstrating “extraordinary and individualized risk” is required and assessed in Kandahar by the departments of National Defence and Foreign Affairs. Spouses and children of interpreters who were killed on the job can also apply until the process closes in September.
He said that some applications take longer because they are incomplete.
“Not everyone in Afghanistan who wants to come to Canada will be able to, but anyone who makes a proper application and proves that they’re facing risk will be able to,” he said.
“We appreciate the bravery and the courage of local Afghans who have been co-operating with Canadian forces.
“We anticipate that anyone who qualifies will be coming to Canada within a few months.”
Citizenship and Immigration Canada estimates that an application takes about six months to review.
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on Jul 15, 2011 | 1 comment