Interpreter pleads for Canada's help to evacuate Afghanistan: 'I feel like I'm in prison'

Calls continue for the federal government to expedite its efforts to evacuate more Canadians and Afghans who supported Canada out of Afghanistan. It was two weeks ago when Global News first learned about language assistant "John" and his desperate situation in Afghanistan. Since then, there has been some movement on his file, but as Christa Dao reports, those invested in getting him out say time is quickly running out.

Calls continue to mount for the federal government to expedite its efforts to evacuate more Canadians and Afghans from Afghanistan after the Taliban swiftly took over the country last month.

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At the end of August, the terrorist entity celebrated as the last American plane left Kabul airport, along with the hopes of many Afghans trying to flee.

“I am scared for myself because if I am not alive with my family, what will they do?” said John, a pseudonym Global News is using to protect the identity of the former language assistant.

“I am particularly worried about my family because I am the only one who is taking care of them, and the situation of Afghanistan is getting worse and worse because the people are jobless now. They don’t have any work, and the people don’t have any money. The banks are closed, and the economy is going down. The people are being killed.”

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John’s ties to Canada have him afraid for his wife and children. He said he fears the Taliban will eventually find him.

“Some of the people are being gotten out of their homes and killed. Some of the people who used to work with intelligence or interpreters, they are trying to hide,” John said.

“Unfortunately, I am one of them.”

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Global News first learned of John’s story through Afghanistan war veterans Daphne and Mike ter Kuile, who are from Calgary. The pair said there has been progress from Ottawa recently, but now, radio silence.

“ going to be reaching out to John, and they would be taking the file onwards from this point… But when we talked to him, and we discovered that nobody has been in contact with him, not even once, it makes me very concerned that this is going to happen at all,” Daphne said.

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The odds of John escaping without outside help are extremely low, the ter Kuiles said.

“This is something of novels that you read about,” Mike said.

“There are so many variables there, too many ifs, so his odds are not good,” Daphne added.

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On Friday, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the situation in Afghanistan remains fluid, and it continues to be in regular contact with Canadian citizens, permanent residents and Afghan applicants. It is exploring options for the reopening of Kabul airport as soon as security can be restored for safe passage.

“I will not stop in trying to find any kind of avenue to any kind of door to open to help John and his family get to this country,” Mike said.

“I really want Canadians to understand from the people that actually were on the ground there in Afghanistan how important these people became to our successes there.”

Read more:
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But John remains trapped.

“I feel like I’m in prison right now,” John said.

“The people who are going to rule, we don’t know how they are going to rule, what will be their standards of life and what opportunities can we get for our children, for the future, for ourselves, so everything is confusing here.

“I have maintained my low profile here. That’s what I can do, but I don’t know how long that I can do that.”


–- With files from Christa Dao

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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