Pressure mounts to get Afghans to safety | Islander

An army lawyer and former major offered to help process visa applications from Afghan translators wishing to come to Australia.

As the Taliban regain territory in Afghanistan, time is running out to bring hundreds of locals employed by Australian troops to safety.

The federal government is urged to expedite requests for Afghan interpreters, contractors and security personnel who fear for their lives.

Glenn Kolomeitz, a former army officer who served in Afghanistan, wants to help with the paperwork.

He represents more than 100 Afghans trying to get Australian visas and says the threat to his clients is imminent.

“We have seen some of our Afghan interpreters receive letters from the Taliban saying: ‘we are about to kill you, prepare to die’,” Kolomeitz told ABC radio.

He said some documents had taken years to process and were not being done quickly enough.

Mr. Kolomeitz said that a program used by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is not helping people on the ground in Afghanistan.

“They need more help from people like us, like lawyers and others in our space, to help them manage these documents and make it happen quickly,” he said. -he declares.

“We are offering to help the government in this space and we have had no response to this offer to date.”

Liberal MP Phillip Thompson also served in Afghanistan.

He sympathizes with Afghans employed by Australian troops, but says the visa process is not straightforward.

“My heart goes out to all who are in Afghanistan right now with the Taliban regaining momentum in some areas, some places where I have fought and where friends of mine have died,” Thompson told Sky News .

“But it’s not as clear as some people try to make it seem.”

More than 1,400 Afghans, including interpreters and their families, have been granted visas since 2014, including a plane loaded with people in recent weeks.

Mr Thompson said the application process had to be solid, given that Australian troops in Afghanistan were battling insurgents and terrorists.

“There must be character assessments because we were fighting in a war,” he said.

“If people have a legitimate concern for their safety and that of their families, and they have helped the Australian soldiers and protected us while we were fighting in a war, then I am in their corner and I will be in their area. corner to help them. “

Associated Australian Press

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