Hopes rise for would-be refugees

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Several Afghan citizens who worked for Norwegian defense forces in Afghanistan have received emails from Norway’s defense ministry, informing them that their applications for “assistance and/or re-establishment in Norway” have been registered. They’re now hoping they’ll win asylum in Norway after all.

Norwegian forces in Afghanistan hired hundreds of local Afghan citizens as trainees and assistants (like the man at right) in the war against the Taliban. Now, with the war lost, many of the former Afghan employees are desperate to seek asylum in Norway for themselves and their families. PHOTO: Forsvaret/Torbjørn Kjosvold

Newspaper Klassekampen reported this week that the former Norwegian employees are mostly in Mazar-e-Sharif and Maimana, where Norway had troops based for many years.

Some had been promised they’d be airlifted out of Afghanistan last month, only to have their hopes shattered when the chaotic evacuation in late August suddenly had to be halted and then came to an abrupt end.

The military has delivered a list of more than 400 names of people who worked for them during the 20 years Norway had troops in Afghanistan. Both they and their families are eligible for refugee status in Norway after the terrorist organization Taliban seized power in mid-August. Top military officials have argued that Norway has an obligation to protect them and can’t “betray” them now.

Norway’s evacuation from Afghanistan is catching more criticism, now from the Center Party’s defense spokesperson and Member of Parliament Liv Signe Navarsete. While Norwegian immigration agency UDI has braced for an influx of Afghan refugees, “we could have expected more and better planning,” Navarsete told Klassekampen. At the same time, she conceded, no one could have predicted how quickly the Taliban took over power and ordered foreigners out of the country.

Norway’s justice ministry said it was working on “new procedures” for those eligible for protection. Justice Minister Monica Mæland warned, however, that they face many challenges tied to “practical matters” since new evacuation flights are unlikely.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund