Denmark Promises to Evacuate Afghans Who Helped US-Led Mission, Sweden Says No

Amid the termination of the international mission in Afghanistan and the pullout of troops, violence has surged in the war-torn country, with the Taliban going on the offensive and winning swaths of territory.

Denmark plans to evacuate Afghans who worked for the Danish military in the country, the country’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod has said, following the example of the US.

“We are ready to evacuate particularly threatened employees in Afghanistan at very short notice and move the handling of their case from Afghanistan to Denmark”, Kofod told the newspaper Berlingske.

Kofod’s statement follows a debate on the fate of the Afghans that supported the Danish military during the nearly 20-year US-led mission. While it is not yet clear how the evacuation will proceed, Kofod said that Denmark won’t leave anyone in the lurch.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden promised to evacuate Afghans working for the American military in the country. While the decision involves some 18,000 personnel, including their families, the figure could grow up to 100,000 Afghans who could be granted asylum in the US.

Denmark’s neighbour Sweden, by contrast, intends to leave some 15 Afghan interpreters to their fate after a rejection by the Swedish Migration Board.

“We served with [the Swedish unit] and worked with them at the front. We were side by side, day and night. And this is the reward”, one of the interpreters told Swedish Radio.

The opposition liberal-conservative Moderate Party urged the Swedish Migration Board to give interpreters and local employees who collaborated with the Swedish military priority within the refugee quota system as “people who have made important contributions to the Swedish effort in Afghanistan with efficiency and security”. Yet, according to Social Democrat Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson it might violate the Swedish Constitution, which prevents the government from intervening in individual cases. His stance was supported by Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist.

This decision, however, was harshly slammed, as many rushed to point out that no fewer than 9,000 Afghans previously received a residence permit despite rejection from the Migration Board.

“Of course, the interpreters who assisted Swedish troops in Afghanistan must be offered protection in Sweden. The technical barriers that are raised seem to reflect reluctance more than anything else”, lawyer Krister Thelin, a former judge at the UN Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, tweeted.

“Sweden has on several occasions changed and bent the rules to give 9,000 Afghans without asylum grounds the opportunity to stay in Sweden. This here involves a dozen people who have made decisive contributions to a Swedish military international effort”, journalist Fredrik Johansson tweeted, musing that this will damage the credibility and integrity of the Swedish refugee policy.

Violence has escalated in Afghanistan as international operations in the country wind down and the Taliban seized the opportunity and went on the offensive, winning swaths of territory.

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