Canberra: Interpreters working with Australian troops in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province fear being killed by the Taliban after being deserted by the departing Dutch troops. Netherlands has refused to grant visas to more than 100 Afghan interpreters.
``The Taliban know we are the eyes and ears of the Dutch mission. If they kill us, the Netherlands can`t get as much done. Our translation work has helped pull the Dutch guys through this war and that is why the Taliban will do everything they can to track us down,`` The Age quoted an interpreter, as saying.
Meanwhile, the Dutch government has suggested the Australian and American forces in Oruzgan province to employ these local interpreters.
Netherlands has confirmed that the Afghans would not be offered visas, saying that ``they belong to NATO not to the Netherlands``.
``We have told our successors, the Americans and Australians, these guys are good translators, take them over. So I think they`ll land on their feet,`` a Dutch Government spokesman said.
The Dutch are in the process of pulling their troops out of the country and will be replaced by a multinational force made up mainly of American forces. Australians have worked alongside the Dutch in Oruzgan since 2006 and will partner the multinational contingent, the report said.
A spokesman for Australian Defence Minister John Faulkner has refused to comment on whether Australian troops would take the interpreters left behind by the Dutch, but appreciated the role of the Afghan interpreters said that they are eligible to apply for the full range of Australian visas.