“Everyone has forgotten us”: in Afghanistan, the dismay of the ex-interpreters of the French army

“It is our duty and our dignity to protect those who help us.” These words spoken from the fort of Bregançon, by President Emmanuel Macron , this Monday, resonated as far as Kabul. While the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan , the head of state maintains that “nearly 800 people are already on French soil: drivers, interpreters, cooks and so many others “. If some were able to fly to Paris, others remain trapped and call on France for help. “Dozens of people are still there (…) for which we remain fully mobilized”, detailed the Head of State. Among them: dozens of Afghans who served as interpreters for the French soldiers are stranded in their homes, without visas. They are very concerned for their safety and feel abandoned.

This is the case of Mohammed Ajan, 33 years, who is testified this Tuesday on France Inter . This Afghan man presents himself as a former interpreter who worked for the French soldiers for a year, between 2001 and 2012, in the Kandahar region – in the south of the country. With the return of the Taliban, the man fears for his life and that of his family. “For the Taliban, we were spies. For them, a man who worked for foreigners is like a French soldier. If they find us, they kill us”, he confides at the microphone of our colleagues. Same story on the side of Me Antoine Ory, the lawyer for the former Afghan interpreters of the French army. Invited on the set of BFMTV, he confirms that these men are in danger: “They are perceived as traitors by the Taliban. examples to establish their new authority. ”

In 1996, during the capture of Kabul by the men belonging to the fundamentalist movement, they were distinguished by violent purges in with regard to those who had collaborated with foreign powers. “The threats and risks to their lives are not hypothetical, but very real”, abounds a collective of lawyers in a forum at World. So these people trapped in Afghanistan turn to France, which responds to absent subscribers. Also on France Inter, Mohammed Ajan says he made five visa requests, the last one being made a few weeks ago. None of them succeeded. One of the reasons: the access conditions are too restrictive. Indeed, the former Afghan supporters of the French army to prove that they were the subject of personal threats in connection with their former functions. Evidence often difficult to gather.

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“The French must help us” While the legal steps are revealed ineffective, only a political decision could authorize these dozens of people to leave the country. Mohammed Ajan asks President Emmanuel Macron to “save his life” by taking action to obtain the necessary papers for their exfiltration in France. “Today the airport is controlled by the Americans and I do not have the documents that allow me to access it and take the plane. I need a paper issued by the French Republic”, says Mohammed Ajan at France Inter . On the road to Kabul airport, many checkpoints controlled by the Taliban were set up. Some Afghans cannot even access the airport. ” We have helped the French, they must help us . And now everyone is gone and has forgotten us “, breaths a former Afghan auxiliary to Parisian.

In total, 800 people united under the acronym PCRL (Civilian personnel of local recruitment) were recruited by the army French when it intervened in Afghanistan to fight against the terrorists and the Taliban, between 1996 and 2014. “Among these 800 PCRL, 360 were repatriated to France “and” 70 of them are still in Afghanistan and are currently suffering threats from the Taliban and their sympathizers “, explained on Franceinfo , Adel Abdul Raziq, president of the Association of former Afghan auxiliaries of the French army, Thursday morning, before the capture of Kabul. According to him, France has left behind those who worked with the French army in Afghanistan. “France, at the beginning, promised us a visa when it was in Afghanistan, but little by little, we saw that unfortunately, it did not keep its promises,” he said on Franceinfo.

On Tuesday, the Taliban announced a general amnesty for all state officials, calling on them to return to work, two days after taking power in Afghanistan, thanks to a lightning offensive. “A general amnesty has been declared for all (…), so you should resume your lifestyle with full confidence,” the Taliban said in a statement. But in the country no one believes that the Taliban have softened . Last June, Abdul Basir, a former cook in the French army, was found dead in Wardak province near Kabul after being severely beaten. He was married and the father of five children. As Westerners and the privileged few take the final flights, time is running out before the situation gets out of hand.

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