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Afghan Interpreters, Others Fast-tracking to Canada

TrexLink

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Dying to serve Canada

Jul 12, 2008 04:30 AM

Alexander Panetta
THE CANADIAN PRESS

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–They lost their limbs serving Canada, and now they're asking to be allowed into the country.

They are among the scores of young Afghan men who have been maimed or killed while working as interpreters for the international armies fighting in their homeland.

They have been shot at, blown up, tortured and threatened.

In at least one case, an interpreter's body was strung up in a public square and left to rot there for weeks as a lesson to anyone else thinking of helping the foreigners.

Hasham is one of these young men who survived.

Sporting a boyish smile and a late adolescent's peach fuzz, he describes how his future in Afghanistan vanished when a roadside bomb tore off his left leg.

Hasham dragged himself across the carpet in his living quarters yesterday, pulled on his only shoe, and hopped up to retrieve a document stored in a safe place by the door.

It is a letter from Canadian soldier Maj. Mike Lake, lauding him for his bravery and loyalty.

Hasham proudly hands over the letter and asks a Canadian journalist to use it to get him into Canada.

When told it's not that simple to immigrate to Canada – there are forms, fees, criteria, and paperwork – he breathes an exasperated sigh.

Canadian soldiers are encouraging their Afghan colleagues to start a union, saying it would protect them against things like arbitrary dismissal or delays in getting insurance payments when they're injured.

But Hasham says his only desire now is to live in Canada, either in Saskatchewan, or in that "French part" of the country, Quebec.

More: http://www.thestar.com/SpecialSections/article/459045
 

geo

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A difficult situation - for sure!

But, I think that things have to be put into perspective.

Canadian (and allied) troops are in Afghanistan - to support the Afghan government.  They (Afgh Gov<t) have asked us to come and help them eradicate the Taliban & their Ossama friend + the Opium.

Although we do use Afghan interpreters, they are employed to support us while we support their government.
Though I am certain that we do provide some form of financial compensation package to the injured afghan interpreters, I do not believe we have a responsibility to bail them out, forever & ever Amen!

We do not ask the Afghan government to provide financial support to the canadian troops that are injured in operations.  Should we ?

The Canadian Government does provide financial compensation to the Afghan people who accidentaly fall in the sights of our weapons or under the wheels / tracks of our vehicles.  We messed up and we do own up to our responsibilities.

How far should we go ???
 

TrexLink

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A good question, Geo.  I accept your arguments but on the other hand, the Afghan government's ability to support them is pretty limited ('nil' would be the word that comes to mind).  Given the willingness of successive Canadian governments to let in virtually anybody as a refugee, I would think it not unwarranted to bring them and their immediate families to Canada. Nobody I can think of is as hard-working as the Afghans and even with a peg leg, these guys are not going to be burden on our system. Further, they have proven their loyalty to things we espouse, like freedom, and have actually risked their lives for it - and our troops.  I would say they are better immigrant choices than many now claiming sanctuary in Canadian church basements these days.
 

forcerecon85

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geo said:
We do not ask the Afghan government to provide financial support to the canadian troops that are injured in operations.  Should we ?

Good point. I never thought of it that way.

I'd be open to letting immigration for Afghans that have assisted us in the field a little easier. Maybe with a letter of recommendation to separate everyday Afghans that want to live here. Not sure how to make the process easier though. 
 

geo

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Though injured, the Afghan people need these guys.
If they are able to lead a constructive life then I would contend that their country needs them  -  bringing them here would deprive Afghan of the industriour people they will need if the Karzai gov't is to succeed.

Canada should provide some health care infrastructure & help train the people who can help heal & educate our Afghan friends.... Period!
 

grmpz1

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i've heard that the australians in iraq granted the iraqis that helped them in the campaign australian citizenship....so i guess the process could also work here
 

JayJay144

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hi there this is my first post on the forum. My name is Jordan. Handed in my papers to the recruiting office recently so I've been reading through the site. It's been very helpfully and full of good information.

This is an interesting post I suppose for my first. Wouldn't these people be of value to the Defence department? The government doesn't have to grant them permanent citizenship but even if they were allowed to come to Canada on a temporary basis I think they would be able to pass on valuable information about the culture, the language and the like to soldiers and civilians who will be deployed. Just a thought. these people made the decision to help the coalition and their country when they could have easily gone the other way.
 

geo

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JayJay144 said:
hi there this is my first post on the forum. My name is Jordan. Handed in my papers to the recruiting office recently so I've been reading through the site. It's been very helpfully and full of good information.

This is an interesting post I suppose for my first. Wouldn't these people be of value to the Defence department? The government doesn't have to grant them permanent citizenship but even if they were allowed to come to Canada on a temporary basis I think they would be able to pass on valuable information about the culture, the language and the like to soldiers and civilians who will be deployed. Just a thought. these people made the decision to help the coalition and their country when they could have easily gone the other way.
I don't see the purpose of offering them the equivalent of "assylum"... either you offer them citzenship - or you don't.

WRT valuable information.... umm... like what ?
remember, we've been there for something like 6 years already - they can be most valuable in theatre... not over here.
 

AirCanuck

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it's definitely a good point to put it in the point of view that we have been requested to help their government and not the other way around - my immediate reaction was to agree that we should do something to help these men immigrate but given the arguments that geo presented it definitely becomes less clear.  Given the fact that we are there at their request, it's definitely apt to point out that we don't request compensation from their government for our wounded men..
 

the 48th regulator

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geo said:
Though injured, the Afghan people need these guys.
If they are able to lead a constructive life then I would contend that their country needs them  -  bringing them here would deprive Afghan of the industriour people they will need if the Karzai gov't is to succeed.

Canada should provide some health care infrastructure & help train the people who can help heal & educate our Afghan friends.... Period!

Here here,

Good thing we did not allow the Kraughts, Wops, or Japs to flood our shores in '45!

Otherwise who knows what would have happened to their countires after the war, or ours for that matter! ;)

dileas

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daftandbarmy

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How would you feel if Afghan employees of the CF in Afghanistan injured themselves on purpose, just to become Canadian citizens (to save their own lives and the lives of their families)?  For those on this forum who have seen the third world at it's worst I'm sure you'll agree that, if we set a precedent like this, it's likely to happen... alot.
 

armyvern

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geo said:
Though injured, the Afghan people need these guys.
If they are able to lead a constructive life then I would contend that their country needs them  -  bringing them here would deprive Afghan of the industriour people they will need if the Karzai gov't is to succeed.

Canada should provide some health care infrastructure & help train the people who can help heal & educate our Afghan friends.... Period!

I agree with your sentiments on this Geo.

Imagine had all our vets who helped to liberate Europe stayed there afterwards. Canada would be such a poorer place for for it.

Afhghanistan needs these people who have stood up and fought for their country; they need them to help build it, and to teach their future generations that democracy is well worth the fight.
 

JayJay144

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the 48th regulator said:
Here here,

Good thing we did not allow the Kraughts, Wops, or Japs to flood our shores in '45!

Otherwise who knows what would have happened to their countires after the war, or ours for that matter! ;)

dileas

tess

Canada could have ended up hiring nazi scientists like the US had that been the case. It wasn't too long after the war though that Italians (47) and Germans (1950) were allowed to immigrate to Canada. taken off the enemy aliens list.

getting back on track though it's a sticky topic. Canada lets in a small number of Iraqi refugees, and a slightly larger number of afghans each year.

http://www.cic.gc.ca/English/department/media/releases/2008/2008-03-19a.asp
http://www.cic.gc.ca/ENGLISH/department/media/releases/2008/2008-03-18.asp

anyways these people will try to immigrate regardless once they figure out the correct process. I can't argue the issue however you guys do make a strong point that they should be helping their country get off it's feet. at the very least they can still be of use somehow despite how they feel about being injured.




 

1feral1

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grmpz1 said:
i've heard that the australians in iraq granted the iraqis that helped them in the campaign australian citizenship....so i guess the process could also work here

Greetings to fellow happy members and guests.

In answer to the above, not quite true, but many have been granted permanant residency. About 600 could be ellegible for this gesture. As for citizenship, after two years any person with permanant residency may apply. For sake of argument, they could stay 30 yrs, still remain as Australian permanant  residents (not Australian citizens) and Iraqi citizens. It would be an individual's decision to take out citizenship.

On a personal note, many locals we had working for us during my tour, had been working for the Australian government since 2003. Risking their own lives daily in transit to and from work as 'collaborators' of the Great Satan (many are and were indeed followed, and some have been killed, simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time), and accompanying us during our daily missions as translators. IEDs, VBIEDs, SBIEDs, snipers etc was daily thing not only for them, but for us too.

I made good friends with a few, and I admire their bravery and dedication (as the pay is not that well), putting themselves at risk many times. Many still have families and extended families in Iraq, while others have sent family members to Jordan and other places for safety.

As much as I am not a lover of their religion and culture, I still would welcome any that I worked with as neighbours here, where the only thing you have to worry about is paying your Visa card.

I am looking forward to the day that I can host a BBQ here, with some of them.

I think it is noble of our government to give refuge to all that have worked for us over there, and I beleive it is a good idea overall.

My 2 bob.

Happy days,

OWDU
 

Danjanou

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Interesting argument. Of course one would need to ask if such a program were put in place, would all of them take advantage of it including as D&B suggests deliberately injuring themselves to move to the head of the line. I would like to think that for everyone who would wish to come here, there would be several who had no desire to do so and prefer to stay the course there. The cynic in me though says that while a noble gesture it has the potential to be open for abuse.

I’ve traveled extensively in the third world and much of my present job involves interacting with immigrants including both the best and the worst, those who are here simply to suck off our generous social welfare system.

Like Wes I'd have no problems with this particular individual becoming my neighbour. I may have to modify my BBQ menu a bit so as not to offend, but a small price to pay for someone who has already done so much for his country and mine.
 

geo

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Danjanou...
While I am not sure someone would injure himself to get to the front of the line.... the possibility that he might consider injuring himself to get his whole family to the front of the line might very well be an irresistible oportunity.

Help them to get into line is one thing - barging in - to the front of the line.... I don't think so.
 

Danjanou

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Our present Immigration system is broken as it is. Line cutting is only one area that needs to be fixed.
 

GAP

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Canada to welcome hundreds of Afghan employees
Updated Thu. Apr. 30 2009 6:19 PM ET The Canadian Press
Article Link

OTTAWA -- Canada is set to open its doors to hundreds of Afghans who face life-threatening risks after having worked with our military and diplomats, The Canadian Press has learned.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says he's putting the final touches on a policy to provide safe haven to Afghans endangered by their association with Canada.

Unlike other NATO countries, Canada has no policy on humanitarian immigration for local staff -- but that's about to change.

Afghans who have been severely injured working with the Canadian military, or who can prove they face threats, will be eligible for fast-track entry.

The first of those ex-employees and their immediate relatives could arrive within months.

The policy goes much further than the one initially considered by the Harper government, which last year said it would examine possible ways to bring over severely injured interpreters only.

The new program will be open to anyone with 12 months' service to the Canadian mission, medical and security checks, and a recommendation letter from a senior soldier or diplomat.

Kenney says his first preference is for them to resettle in safer parts of Afghanistan, because the last thing policy-makers want is an exodus of educated, liberal, English-speaking people from that country.

"Those kind of people are going to have to play a central role in the long-term construction of a stable and democratic Afghanistan," Kenney said in an interview.

"But in particular circumstances where we feel that a person's safety will be jeopardized by staying in the country, the door will be open to Canada. ...

"I think Canadians would be proud to help provide refuge to those who have helped our forces, aid personnel and diplomats."

Kenney said he expects hundreds of Afghan employees to benefit from the program, along with their immediate families.

Insurgents have gone to gruesome lengths to make an example of locals who work with NATO.

In one case, several interpreters' bodies were strung up in a public square and left to rot there for weeks as a lesson to anyone else thinking of helping the foreigners.

Government officials say the program is inspired by similar ones in the United States, Britain, Australia and Denmark.

Officials say they would receive many of the same services as refugees: income support for 12 months, health benefits and help preparing a CV and finding work.

The program is to be funded by the existing budget at Citizenship and Immigration.
More on link


 

Colin Parkinson

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While I understand the concern of draining the educated class from the country, I think supporting the people that risk so much to help us is a worthy cause. For those that are wounded while working for us, deserve our long time support.
 

1feral1

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A good plan, as Australia has done the same, allowing up to 600 Iraqis employed by the ADF to come to Australia to start a new life. I have no idea on how many are accepting this generous offer. We did it for the South Vietnamese before our pullout from SVN, long before the boat people came here.

I would welcome 'Fil' our translator (from Baghdad), as a neighbour any day. He risked his life just coming in, and not including the VBIED/IED sniper threat daily on our missions outside the wire. He rode around in our LAVs like any one of us.  Fil was a former Iraqi Army officer, a LT, who was involved in the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. University educated, spoke excellent english, ran a profital business within our FOB, and was rather carismatic to say the least.

OWDU
 
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