April 16, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

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Afghanistan | Canadian soldiers arrive in Kabul, concern continues

(Ottawa) Criticisms of roadblocks at Kabul airport and bureaucratic roadblocks in Ottawa could not be quelled – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that the Canadian military would support efforts to exit Afghanistan.

Lee Berthiame and Mike Blanfield
Canadian Press

The Ministry of Defense announced this week that two C-17 transport planes had been used for regular flights from Kabul, while Trudeau during his election campaign in Victoria on Thursday revealed that Canadian soldiers were already in short supply.

“We are going to keep members of the armed forces and Canadians on the ground – they are there now, and there will be more who will come later,” he said on Thursday, adding that the government was determined to save hundreds. Afghans who helped Canada.

These are former translators and support staff with their families who are at risk of being arrested by the Taliban for working with the Canadian military and other organizations – or worse – as radical Islamists occupy Afghanistan.

After weeks of harsh criticism from Canadian veterans and agencies, the arrival of Canadian servicemen suggests that efforts to evacuate these people may now intensify.

Yet there were questions and concerns about how these Afghans and their families would get to the airport – what would happen next if they had the chance to board.

Disruptions to the airport

A translator who spoke to the Canadian Press on Thursday shared videos of the scene outside the airport, where Afghan people gathered in hopes of finding a way out of the country. The videos show American soldiers firing into the air to stop the crowd.

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The translator, who defended his identity to protect his identity, says he worked with the Canadian army in the Panwai district from 2010 to 2013 and is now hiding with his three young men, children and his wife from the Taliban in Kabul.

“It’s been very scary for the last five days because everyone is so scared,” he said. Everyone is scared to look at the Taliban. ”

Retired Maj. Gen. Denise Thompson, one of many Canadian soldiers to help former Afghan comrades and their families, says Taliban checkpoints are the biggest challenge in getting people to the airport.

“How to safely evacuate people from their homes, go through Taliban checkpoints and enter the airport before it’s too late so they can miss the flight,” Thompson said Thursday.

U.S. officials say some insurgents tried to flee the country or were detained while US officials said they were in talks, allowing others to cross unhindered.

“If the Taliban do not change their position significantly, and the international community and Canada work, it will be very difficult to expel a lot of people,” Trudeau said Thursday.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that US forces at the Kabul airport were helping allies evacuate their countrymen from Afghanistan.

Bureaucratic restrictions

Getting to the airport is one of the challenges facing refugees in Afghanistan. Stephen Watt, whose Northern Light Canada organization worked with hundreds of former translators, says the next hurdle is to go through U.S. military checkpoints and board the plane.

Mr. Watt and others have been complaining for weeks about the immigration department’s handling of the crisis. They talk about the complete silence of the ministry once the complex forms, unreliable and confusing criteria and documents for submission by Afghans are submitted.

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Speaking to the Canadian Press, the translator said he had submitted his documents a few weeks ago with the help of Northern Lights Canada and the Afghanistan-Canadian Translators Group, but had not yet received approval – let him and his family have a message

However, without such confirmations, Watt says most translators and their families would not be able to cross American checkpoints and board the plane.

Because of this confusing situation Canada has not responded to emails and has not processed requests, and the majority of the people we speak to have no confirmation. So how are they going to get to the airport?

Stephen Watt, co-founder of the Northern Lights Canada organization

According to Watt, some applicants received a message from the Canadian embassy in Lebanon on Thursday saying they now need to pass a medical examination. Other former artists have said they need a negative COVID-19 test before boarding the plane.

Mr. Trudeau was unaware of the need on Thursday and the office of Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino later said it had been removed.

The veterans worked with the Canadian Army on an integrated list of authorized interpreters, and retired Major-General Thompson hopes to bring these people and their families by plane to a third country, such as Kuwait. . But immigration officials have so far refused to use the list.

Meanwhile, the translator, who spoke to The Canadian Press shortly after nightfall in Kabul, said he had prayed for a message confirming his family’s ability to escape in the morning, at which time they would leave the country at the risk of Taliban checkpoints.

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Tomorrow morning, I hope to get a reply, email. So I leave. ”