• Sweden's news in English
 

Afghan translator pins hope on Swedish asylum

Published: 06 Feb 2014 09:42 GMT+01:00

Slim and youthful-looking, Fahim speaks with The Local over a crackly Skype connection. While calm and collected, he says his family lives in a "traditional" neighbourhood where not everyone appreciates his four-year stint as an interpreter for the Swedish military.

"I have some fanatic neighbours who blamed me for working with foreigners. Even after I quit the job, I was often threatened directly and indirectly," says Fahim. 

He says his neighbours have spewed "propaganda" about his work for the Nato-led International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf), with residents in Mazar-e-Sharif seeing no differences between Swedish forces and, for example, US soldiers operating in the south.

Letters and calls telling Fahim to stop working with the Swedes have always been anonymous, meaning Fahim lives with the knowledge that the threats could come from anyone - a next-door-neighbour or someone tied more closely to local insurgents.

"I think my life is in danger if I stay here," says Fahim.

Despite Fahim's fears, the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) believes that internal migration in Afghanistan is possible for some people - men and families with an adult male, in particular those moving to the capital Kabul and other larger towns.

"One precondition, however, is that no one in the family has any disability or other medical problems," the analysis, updated on January 17th, stated.

Fahim does not think moving to another part of the country would be enough to protect him and his fiancée. Desperate to leave Afghanistan, Fahim has asked his former employers at Camp Northern Lights for help. The Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) have confirmed that Fahim, which is not his real name, worked as an interpreter for them.

The young Afghan said that he was part of a group of 24 interpreters that last year implored Sweden to grant them asylum. Swedish migration law, however, states that an applicant must physically be in Sweden to submit his or her case. The translators' plea nonetheless received the backing of the military's Supreme Commander Sverker Göransson

Sweden's Armed Forces currently have just shy of 30 translators either in direct employ or subcontracted through the company Supreme. However, officials did not have an exact figure of how many translators its soldiers have worked with in Mazar-e-Sharif since leading operations there in 2006.

In December, the Migration Board announced it would grant asylum to an undisclosed number of Isaf interpreters. But Fahim was not one of them. His former colleagues were granted asylum as part of the UNHCR-managed refugee quota system, which Migration Board department head Oskar Eklund says is determined by the Swedish parliament. Neither his staff nor the Armed Forces have the power to alter the number of quota refugees.

"That is set by parliament, which means that ultimately the number is decided at the ballot box in September," Ekblad tells The Local.  "The interpreters were resettled as part of the 350 emergency resettlement quota we have at our disposal."

Could the quota refugee system, also referred to as resettlement, help Fahim?

"That tool still exists, and there is still a possibility to use that process," Ekblad explains. "But I can't comment on how we cooperate (with the Armed Forces) to use it."

Fahim says he spoke about his situation with Migration Board officials late last year and was told to wait. Ever since, Fahim has scoured both the Migration Board's and the Armed Forces' websites for more information, and last week made sure officers at Camp Northern Light communicated his predicament to headquarters in Stockholm. The Armed Forces tells The Local that it interviews its translators frequently to asses the threat level.

"When we make the judgment that we can not handle security for the individual, we take the necessary steps," an Armed Forces spokesman says. "We have an ongoing dialogue with the Migration Board to prepare these cases. But we do not comment on individual cases.

"We cannot today say how the threat (against them) will change once we leave Afghanistan."

Fahim doesn't think he would be out of danger if he left Mazar-e-Sharif to live elsewhere in the country.

"Even if I move to the capital or another province, I will not be safe," Fahim explains, noting that several of the missions he undertook with the Swedes took him to villages where insurgents, opposed both to foreign forces and the government of current President Hamid Karzai, were active.

"They recognize my face." 

This article was updated at 14.17pm on March 14th, 2014. The Migration Board granted asylum to an undisclosed number of interpreters in December 2013, not 30 translators as previously stated. 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Full refuges reject five battered women a day
File photo: TT

Full refuges reject five battered women a day

Women's shelters in Sweden remain under pressure with a new report indicating that five women a day were turned away in 2014 due to over-crowding. READ  

Two remanded for Gothenburg gang murder
Photo: TT

Two remanded for Gothenburg gang murder

Two young men have been remanded into custody on suspicion of the murder of a 55-year-old man in Gothenburg on Wednesday. READ  

'Unattractive' Swedes offered total makeover
Swedes in need of a total makeover? Photo: Carolina Romare/imagebank.sweden.se

'Unattractive' Swedes offered total makeover

Sweden's least attractive people live in Motala, according to a dating website, but that is soon to change. READ  

Sweden set for brief burst of spring sunshine
Photo: TT

Sweden set for brief burst of spring sunshine

April is a notoriously whimsical weather month and is set to take a turn for the better in Sweden as spring sunshine is set to make a return to many parts of the country . READ  

Swedish teens in hurry to leave home
A housing queue protest in Stockholm in April 2015. Photo: TT

Swedish teens in hurry to leave home

Swedish youngsters leave home earlier their European counterparts, surprising housing researchers. READ  

Swedish study explains coffee cancer link
Cutting cancer, one cup at a time. Photo: TT

Swedish study explains coffee cancer link

Swedish researchers have explained why drinking coffee is thought to lower the risk of contracting breast and other cancers. READ  

Zlatan's French rant ban reduced to three matches
Sweden's star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Zlatan's French rant ban reduced to three matches

Controversial Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ban for his foul-mouthed rant at a referee in which he blasted France as a “shit country” has been reduced from four matches to three, French newspaper Le Parisien reported on Friday. READ  

Syria: ‘most dangerous’ Isis leaders Scandinavian
President Assad. Photo: TT

Syria: ‘most dangerous’ Isis leaders Scandinavian

President Bashar al-Assad has thanked Sweden for taking in record numbers of refugees during the war, but warned about a growing danger from ‘Scandinavian’ Islamist extremists in his country. READ  

New Swedes picked for airport Hall of Fame
Fashion blogger Kenza Zouiten is one of the new faces. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

New Swedes picked for airport Hall of Fame

The new faces that are going to represent Sweden at the Stockholm Hall of Fame at Arlanda airport have been revealed. The gallery of famous Swedes is meant to reflect the country's contemporary icons, but this is its first update in almost nine years. READ  

Swedish Robocop star in Wikileaks email scandal
Joel Kinnaman, left, and his co-star Abblie Cornish in Robocop. Photo: AP Photo/Sony/Columbia Pictures/Kerry Hayes

Swedish Robocop star in Wikileaks email scandal

Sweden's hottest Hollywood star Joel Kinnaman is the latest name to emerge from a Wikileaks' publication of over 170,000 internal Sony Pictures emails stolen in a massive hacker attack last year, alongside one of the Pirate Bay founders and information about the fourth book in the famous Swedish Millennium series. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
What you can buy in Sweden for the price of a London shed
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
"You may only do something once, but do it 100%"
National
What's on in Sweden this week
Swedish Hasbeens
Sponsored Article
Is the world wrong to connect Sweden with sexiness?
National
Swedes launch first donut into space
Blog updates

17 April

Editor’s blog, April 17th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, After several days of social media buzz about an upcoming announcement from Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus,..." READ »

 

15 April

Gång, timme, tid & dags (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! In this article I will talk about “gång”, “timmar”, “dags” and “tid”, because they all translate..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
Is Sweden returning to 1990s social democratic welfare politics?
National
Mamma Mia! Abba entertainment venue set to open in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: April 15th
National
Why Sweden is top place in the world for expats to raise children
National
Swedish 'submarine' was civilian boat
Sponsored Article
Want to study in Sweden? Read why Stockholm is the best choice
National
Why has a US town got pulled into a Swedish spelling row?
Gallery
Property of the week: Hovås, Gothenburg
National
What does Zlatan think of his ban?
Sponsored Article
Does far-north Sweden have to punch above its weight?
National
Swedish teenagers help rebuild Breivik massacre island
National
Would you live in a steel box?
National
How an act of kindness by one Syrian immigrant went viral
Gallery
People-watching: April 8th
National
Swedish bids for Billboard fame
National
Swedish monkeys denied Saudi visas
National
Sunny spring weather predicted
Sponsored Article
'Impossible' to run Skanska without Bromma Airport
National
Half of Swedes want begging ban
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
National
Why are expats less likely to settle down with Swedes?
Sport
What does Sweden think of Zlatan's recent outburst?
Society
Get to grips with Sweden's most bizarre Easter traditions
Gallery
People-watching: April 1st
National
The Local's best April Fools' gags
National
US spy agency to feature in new 'Stieg Larsson' book sequel
National
Beaver bite at Swedish bus stop
Gallery
Property of the week: Åreda
National
How this Syrian travelled to Sweden
Was Swedish TV host too harsh on nationalist leader Åkesson?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden must embrace openness and diversity'
Scandinavian airlines change cockpit rules after Germanwings crash
National
Sweden remembers Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer
Politics
Why petrol prices are going up
Gallery
People-watching: March 28th
Stieg Larsson's partner blasts Millennium trilogy sequel
Society
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
Gallery
People-watching: March 25th
National
Which words are changing in Sweden's latest dictionary?
National
Is this house 'un-Swedish'?
National
Sweden pays tribute to victims of Germanwings Alps crash
National
Neo-Nazi activity rising in Sweden
National
How to make Swedish Waffles
Gallery
Property of the week: Torslanda - Hjuvik
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

3,342
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se