December 15, 2013
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison insists he is closely monitoring an Afghan resettlement program, following reports an interpreter waiting to come to Australia was killed by the Taliban.
Fairfax newspapers have reported that an interpreter who worked with the Australian Army has been killed by the Taliban in an apparent revenge attack.
It has been reported that he was waiting for resettlement in Australia under a program designed to provide refuge to Afghans who work with Coalition forces.
Mr Morrison has previously announced plans to provide 800 visas to Afghan nationals and their families.
A spokesman said the Government would not comment on individual cases given the security risks, but said the Minister has been receiving weekly updates to ensure the program delivers help to those who have risked their lives.
“[The program] is being closely monitored to ensure, as promised, we help those and their families who have risked their lives to aid our diggers,” the spokesman said.
“For operational security reasons and to protect the privacy of the LEE (Locally Engaged Employees), the Government does not reveal details about the way in which protection is provided.”
The Government says the program is not just limited to interpreters.
According to the Fairfax reports, other interpreters are mostly in hiding while they wait for their visa applications to process.
Greens say visa delays ‘mean death’
In October, Mr Morrison announced the 800 Afghans would be accepted through Australia’s current annual humanitarian intake which the Coalition has cut to 13,750.
He said the Australian Government was “not going to leave these people behind”.
The Greens have called on the Government to speed up the issuing of protection visas for interpreters.
“It’s too dangerous for us to leave these interpreters in the hands of the Taliban,” immigration spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young said in a statement.
“After they supported our troops in the war this is the least we can do.
“We need to get on with it because, in this situation, delay means death.”