Swedish Military Says No One to Evacuate as Gov't Swings in, Providing Asylum to Afghan Interpreters
07:30 GMT 13.08.2021 (Updated: 16:36 GMT 08.12.2022)
© AP Photo / Sameer NajafizadaSwedish soldiers (file)
© AP Photo / Sameer Najafizada
Previously, the Swedish government had come under harsh criticism from the opposition for not wanting to help the Armed Forces' Afghan interpreters, only to make a U-turn and agreeing to help them.
In a move that was embarrassing for both the government and the opposition, the Swedish military has put an end to the debate surrounding the fate of its Afghan personnel amid the Taliban's* recent advances by stressing that it hasn't used any local interpreters in the war-torn country since 2014, the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported.
Earlier, the Swedish government came under fire from the opposition for failing to evacuate and provide asylum to the Afghan interpreters who have worked for the Swedish forces. While Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson initially flatly refused by claiming it would be unconstitutional for the government to intervene in individual asylum cases, he subsequently made a pronounced U-turn by emphasising that the Swedish Migration Agency and the Swedish Armed Forces are jointly investigating the possibilities of giving interpreters protection in Sweden.
However, the Armed Forces put an end to the debacle, by stressing that all the Afghan personnel had been evacuated as early as 2014. Since then, the Swedish forces have not employed local personnel in Afghanistan, Swedish Armed Forces communications director Mats Ström said.
“After the ISAF operation was completed and transferred to the Resolute Support Mission, Sweden has not had any of its own locally employed interpreters, but has used interpreting resources employed by, among others, Germany," Ström said.
20 July 2021, 05:29 GMT
Following the end of the ISAF operation in 2014, a total of 69 people (including employees and relatives) received protection in Sweden.
Earlier, the liberal-conservative opposition Moderate Party had been particularly active in prompting a government response to protect the at-risk Afghan personnel, penning letters to both Justice Minister Morgan Johansson and Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. At the same time, Johanne Hildebrandt of the Liberal Party went so far as to suggest that Sweden had “betrayed” the interpreters.
According to the Moderates' spokesperson Maria Malmer Stenergard, these are still a number of people not covered by the 2014 decision, when a number of Afghans received protection in Sweden, who the Swedish Migration Board now must prioritise.
The Swedish military left Afghanistan in May this year in connection with the completion of the Resolute Support Mission.
Despite formally being non-aligned, Sweden took part in the US-led operations in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2021. A total of five Swedish soldiers lost their lives during the operation.
*A terrorist group banned in Russia