houston news, houston local news, breaking news in houston, houston weather at newscast media





















Afghan interpreters feels let down by the United States



by Joseph Earnest  December 10, 2013                        


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Taliban views interpreters who served the US military as traitors. Thousands of translators now fear for their lives at home in Afghanistan, while they wait in vain for residence visas promised to them by the US.

The prospect of death bound their fates together. First, an Afghan translator saved an American army captain's life, and then the captain saved the translator by helping him make it to the US.

"I wouldn't be sitting here telling you the story if it wasn't for the guy saving my life," says American Matt Zeller, while seated on his sofa in a Washington D.C. suburb.

Sitting next to him is interpreter Janis Shinwari, who had to leave his home country after killing two Afghans in order to save Zeller's life. On that day five years ago, Zeller's convoy had been lured into an ambush in the heavily embattled province of Ghazni in Afghanistan. A grenade's blast hurled Zeller into a trench.

"I thought: OK, this is it. I die on April 28, 2008. There is no tomorrow," Zeller recalls. He was trapped as 50 Taliban fighters surrounded his small team.

"I felt someone land in the grave with me, and before I had the chance to turn and see who it was I hear the unmistakable sound of an AK47 going off next to my head, " Zeller says. "My initial thought was: Oh my God! Because American soldiers don't carry AK47s. So who in the hell is next to me?"

It was Shinwari. The local translator had noticed two snipers behind Zeller. Although it wasn't part of his duty as a translator, he didn't hesitate and pulled the trigger.

Once the two men made it back to camp, Shinwari recalls Zeller asking him why he had done what he did. "I told him: look, brother, you are our guest in Afghanistan. All Americans in Afghanistan, they are our guests. You guys are here to fight for our freedom. And this is our responsibility to save our guests' lives," Shinwari says.

An Afghan officer warned Shinwari that he had been placed on a Taliban death list.

"When the Taliban found out that I saved an American life - not one, but a couple of lives - and that I'm supporting the American mission, they added my name. They have to kill me if they find me," Shinwari says.

Even that was rather quick, says Katherine Reisner of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), an aid organization founded to help Iraqi refugees at the Urban Justice Center in New York. IRAP now works with Afghan refugees, as well.

But there's been very limited success actually securing residency permits, says Reisner, "In Afghanistan, the issue there is that up until this past year almost no Afghan special immigrant visas have been issued. The agencies did not implement the program until over two years after Congress passed the law."

Of the 25,000 visas intended by law to be set aside for Iraqis, fewer than 6,000 have actually been given out since 2008. And there are even fewer for Afghans at just 9,000 available visas. That number was calculated on the basis of 40,000 American troops serving in Afghanistan, but the level of troops would go on to be more than double that.

Just 1,200 Afghans have received visas to date. But the US Senate voted in May with bipartisan support in favor of making an extra 5,000 visas available annually, says Reisner.

The bill still has to pass in the House of Representatives.   Add Comments>>

 Source:Radio Deutsche Welle                                                   

















       Find newscast media on youtube for houston news and local breaking news        get newscast media news feeds for breaking news, houston local news and world news.          Get our facebook updates on world news, houston news and houston local news including sports         Twitter

 Join the Newscast Media social networks

for current events and multimedia content. 






 Copyright© Newscast Media. All Rights Reserved. Terms and Privacy Policy