Canada’s troubled effort to relocate Afghan military interpreters “insults” veterans: O’Toole
Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole accused the Liberal government of hastily and half-heartedly trying to relocate Afghan interpreters working with the Canadian military.
“For our Afghan veterans, this is a critical loose ending of the war we need to resolve,” O’Toole said today.
“This is an insult to our military and another sign that the Liberal government is completely out of touch with the needs of our country.”
The Conservative Party leader used his opening remarks in an infrastructure announcement in Fredericton, New Hampshire, to resolve Ottawa’s new resettlement mission, which was caught in controversy last week.
Earlier this week, potential applicants for the program were told that they only had three days to complete a series of online forms and digitize a series of sensitive documents.
The government later stated that there was no clear deadline for applications-but many people worried that the difficult start of the program might put Afghans working with Canada at risk of violent retaliation by the Taliban.
As the United States begins to withdraw troops from the country, the Taliban-Canadian soldiers who have fought for more than a decade-are gaining momentum and putting pressure on major cities across the country.
“They are at risk of persecution and even death because they work for our country and support our men and women in uniforms,” ??O’Toole said.
Former embassy staff says they need more help
Nipa Banerjee, who worked at the Canadian Embassy in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2006, praised the government for canceling the three-day deadline, but said that future applicants are still struggling and need better help.
She said that many eligible applicants are not interpreters, nor do they speak English well enough to browse complex immigration documents.
“These forms are also difficult to understand because there are technical terms in some places,” said Banerjee, who was in charge of overseeing Canada’s development plan while in Afghanistan.
Banerjee said that the Afghans she has worked with have been contacting her to ask them about their application. Some people reported that they were rejected by the Canadian Embassy in Kabul when they asked for help.
“If the embassy can provide some help to the locals, that would be great,” she said.
A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said that follow-up messages have been sent to those who may be confused by the initial instructions, including a three-day deadline.
Émilie Simard wrote in an email: “The officials have contacted the applicant to clarify this point and will continue to actively work with customers to assist them in completing the application.”
“We also hired local support staff to help clients with language barriers submit applications and documents.”
Freeland reiterated Canada’s “moral responsibility”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland (Chrystia Freeland) today reiterated the government’s intention to resettle Afghans who helped Canadian soldiers for the second day in a row-although she did not provide new details on when it would begin.
“We, as a country, have a moral responsibility to them, and we absolutely recognize this,” Freeland said today.
“We are working very, very hard, so that those who work for Canada and work for their families can come to Canada very, very quickly.”
At the same time, the United States is carrying out its mission to resettle Afghans who assisted the U.S. military during the war. The first flight carrying more than 200 workers and their families landed in the United States today.