Sunday, November 29, 2015

Afghan Refugees & Interpreters

Culture Shock. Many Europeans and Americans (and the occasional Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, and others) are surprised during their first trip to Afghanistan by the culture of their temporary assignment. There are lots of things to observe and learn quickly (unless of course, you are a fobbit who doesn't venture into the real Afghanistan). Reverse that situation and think about what an Afghan visitor (refugee, migrant, etc.) faces when he first ventures into Europe. For instance, what goes through an Afghan man's mind when he adjusts to life in Germany where a women is the national leader, pork is the national dish, and beer and wine is prevalent everywhere? Read "Culture Shock in the Promised Land of Germany", The New York Times, November 18, 2015.

Night Letters. There are many compelling reasons to leave Afghanistan - economic, social, security, opportunity, and more. But it is not that easy to pick up and leave. And having left . . . you need a destination. Enter the fabricated 'night letter'. If you have threatening letter from the Taliban then you may be able to start a new life in Europe. Most such letters were tacked on the door (usually at night by Taliban) of government officials and, Afghan policemen, school teachers, and interpreters working for Coalition military units. However, if the Taliban didn't give you a night letter then you can buy one from someone who sells forged threat letters. Read more in "Afghans seeking asylum buy fake Taliban threat letters"Stars & Stripes, November 22, 2015.

"Moderate Muslims" Left Behind - Interpreters Betrayed. A former serviceman with tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan wonders why the United States has abandoned the interpreters that helped the U.S. military accomplish its mission. He points out that the U.S. has an unfair and archaic visa process at the State Department. Read more in "The Moderate Muslims We Left Behind", The Blog - Huffington Post, by Eli Williamson, November 24, 2015.

An Interpreters Story. A former Afghan interpreter now resides in South Carolina courtesy of the Lutheran Services Carolinas. Read "From Afghanistan to South Carolina: A refugee's story", The Post and Courier, November 21, 2015.

CHF Afghanistan Factsheet. "The Afghanistan Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) is a country-based financing mechanism for humanitarian organisations under the oversight of the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC). It is used to provide anticipated and timely funding towards jointly prioritised needs and critical gaps in the humanitarian response in Afghanistan." Read an updated CHF Factsheet (Nov 2015), posted on ReliefWeb, November 23, 2015.

UNHCR IDP Report. Read Durable Solutions for IDPs in Afghanistan, November 2015.

Halting the Exodus. President Ghani is making pleas to his countrymen to stay in Afghanistan and help rebuild the nation. But many Afghans continue to leave for more security and better economic opportunity. Those that can't buy a passport, visa, and airline ticket turn into refugees fleeing Afghanistan via smuggling routes. Read more in "Afghan Leaders Try to Halt Exodus, but Pleas Ring Hollow", The New York Times, November 23, 2015.

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