The Danish defence cannot look into the possible asylum claims of 37 former interpreters as the private company they were hired through has not responded to requests for information.
Defence Minister Nick Haekkerup said he is in the dark about what happened to around 20 per cent of the Afghan interpreters hired to work for the Danish military in Afghanistan.
There were 195 interpreters deployed to work for Danish forces during the war, of whom 37 were via Mission Essential Personnel, a private US firm, which continues to ignore Denmark’s requests for information about the interpreters.
Haekkerup said that he is unable to guarantee the privately-hired interpreters equal treatment at present, but pointed out that, in accordance with the agreement made, they can contact the Danish Defence Ministry if they feel threatened.
Due to the fact that Mission Essential Personnel is a privately-run firm, Haekkerup cannot request information via US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, but said he would travel to the US in the coming weeks to address the issue. He confirmed that he would travel to the States before the end of the month and he expects to receive the information he requires.
Despite contacting the company three months ago, the Danish military is still waiting for a response. The request is for information such as the interpreters’ names and employment periods.
The request is so important is because the information will be used to assess whether the interpreters can legitimately claim asylum in the Scandinavian country in accordance with an agreement the government and Venstre, Konservative and Liberal Alliance signed earlier in the year.
The agreement states that any interpreter who feels threatened as a result of his or her affiliation with the Danish military can be granted asylum in Denmark.
Amnesty International has described the situation as grotesque, saying that lives are at stake. The organisation’s spokesman in Denmark, Ole Hoff-Lund said they thought a solution had been found but that is not the case. He stressed that these people are Taliban targets so it is not safe for them to hang around and wait for case processing to start.