Eesti Elu
Estonia accused of heartlessness in denying asylum for Afghan interpreter
Eestlased Eestis 17 May 2013 EL (Estonian Life)Eesti Elu
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Laas Leivat

Recently the Estonian government stated that it will weigh each case separately in determining whether applicants from Afghanistan will be granted asylum or not. In any case the reasons for denying refuge to Omar, an interpreter for Estonian forces fighting in Afghanistan, and his family, will not be discussed in public – as is the position of all Western countries in regards to asylum-seeking applicants. This was in response to queries as to why Omar, who claims his life and the lives of his family are in danger were he not able to find a safe haven in Estonia.

The decision was widely criticised, not only for its seeming lack of compassion but also for its unfortunate timing – during the official visit of the President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. Karzai had stated, while in Tallinn, that individuals who had assisted allied forces were in no danger and there was no reason for them to seek asylum.

What has been the policy of other countries in regards to granting asylum to Afghan asylum seekers? In March Norway approved the applications of 21 interpreters previously associated with its forces who had been threatened with either hanging or beheading by the Taliban. This was from a total of 106 Afghans of whom many worked in service industries or construction, whose safety concerns were not deemed to be justified. As of the end of 2013 Canada has accepted for asylum some 800 applicants who have assisted either its forces or diplomats. The country is employing about 450 officials to run this special program, is offering 12 months of financial assistance, health insurance and help in the preparation of CVs for seeking work. (Loe pikemalt Eesti Elu 17. mai paberlehest )
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