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'Give Afghan staff jobs to skip asylum process'

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'Give Afghan staff jobs to skip asylum process'
14:16 CET+01:00
A Moderate Party MP has suggested the Swedish armed forces solve the dilemma of interpreters in Afghanistan fearing retaliation after the troop pull-out by employing them in Sweden.

"A solution for the armed forces if they want to take responsibility for their translators is to give them work in Sweden," parliamentarian Gunnar Axén, who sits on the social insurance committee, said on Friday.

"Then they'll get residency permit as labour migrants."

After four years in the country, the residency permit would become permanent.

Axén underlined that there are several job titles within the armed forces that do not require security clearances of the would-be employees.

The commander-in-chief, Sverker Göranson, had previously asked that the Swedish government find a solution to welcome the Afghan interpreters in Sweden.

Many of the local staff fear they will face a backlash when the Swedish troops leave and several have testified in Swedish media to already being threatened for working for foreign forces.

"People who don't see the world as we do see the interpreters as traitors," Göranson said this week, according to the TT news agency.

The interpreters cannot seek asylum without travelling to Sweden - a process that would most likely involve people-smugglers and vast amounts of money changing hands.

Göranson had asked if the translators could instead be included in the refugee quota that Sweden actively takes in from crisis zones every year.

The interpreters' Catch-22 situation was highlighted already last year when 24 of them wrote to the Swedish embassy in Kabul to ask for advice.

At the time, Migration Minister Tobias Billström responded that "Sweden does not grant asylum as a reward for hard work".

MP Axén agreed with the commander-in-chief's analysis that the translators might be in jeopardy but said there is no guarantee that the Migration Board would share that assessment in each individual case.

A spokesman for the armed forces, Erik Lagersten, said however that there were potential hiccups with taking shortcuts such as turning the translators into labour migrants.

"Asylum is granted to individuals under threat, and we think that Sweden has a societal duty to look into that," he told TT.

"If you want to equate the asylum system with the labour migration process, that has to be a discussion between the politicians."

TT/The Local/at

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