Lithuania vows asylum for Afghan translators
NATO member Lithuania said Friday it would grant asylum to a dozen Afghans who worked as translators and interpreters for international armed forces and now fear Taliban reprisals once foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
"These are people who helped our forces. This is a matter of honour for our country to help them in return," Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told AFP.
Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called it "the right and responsible decision", telling local media: "We will provide asylum to these people."
Authorities in the Baltic EU member received a letter this week from 12 Afghan translators and interpreters who said they worked with its troops in Afghanistan until 2013, when Lithuania was leading a reconstruction team in Ghor province.
The Afghans said their request for asylum was "a matter of life and death" in the letter seen by AFP.
Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said checks were underway to confirm that the people who sent the letter had truly worked with troops in Afghanistan.
The Afghans said that while working for foreign forces they had gathered information from locals and governmental authorities, attended intelligence meetings, assisted with training exercises and even participated in military operations against the Taliban.
They warned that as the Taliban takes control the people who worked with international forces "are the first target for them".
Last week the Taliban said that Afghans who worked with foreign forces in the past have nothing to fear once international troops leave, as long as they "show remorse."