Withdrawing NATO Troops Must Protect Afghan Staff From Taliban Retaliation: Human Rights Watch

A prominent human rights group – Human Rights Watch has called on countries whose troops are on track to leave Afghanistan to step up efforts to resettle former Afghan interpreters and other local employees, saying the withdrawal heightened fears that they would be targeted by Taliban forces.

The Taliban on Monday assured Afghans who worked for foreign troops as guards or interpreters that they should not fear for their lives once these forces leave. The group urged these Afghans to “show remorse for their past actions” and not engage in similar activities.

According to the radical movement, such actions amount to treason against Islam and the country.

“Countries with troops departing Afghanistan should accelerate programs to resettle former Afghan interpreters and other employees who are increasingly at risk from Taliban forces,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, adding that these countries should urgently fast-track visa processing and relocation efforts.

Though the US and UK announced they would be accelerating programs to relocate these Afghan employees and their families, advocacy groups are alarmed by the efforts proceeding “too slowly,” saying these programs may not adequately cover all former Afghan employees who may be at risk, the group said.

“The countries now withdrawing from Afghanistan have been far too slow in developing evacuation, relocation, and resettlement plans for their former Afghan employees,” HRW Associate Asia Director Patricia Gossman said, as quoted in a press release.

Washington announced in April that all US forces would be removed from Afghanistan by September 11, with the gradual pullout starting in May. Other NATO countries are also withdrawing their troops in coordination with the United States.

Meanwhile, The withdrawal of American forces and US allies from Afghanistan has passed the halfway point, Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Tuesday.

“US Central Command estimates that we have completed greater than 50% of the entire retrograde process,” CENTCOM said in a press release.

Since President Joe Biden’s order to withdrawal by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the Al-Qaeda (banned in Russia) terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the US Defense Department has retrograded the equivalent of approximately 500 C-17 cargo aircraft loads of material out of Afghanistan and has turned nearly 13,000 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for disposition, the release said.

Also, the US has officially handed over six facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, with plans for additional transfers in support of Afghan defense forces working to defend the nation, the release added.

Future updates will exclude percentage estimates for operational security reasons, according to the release. However, media reports indicate the withdrawal is proceeding at a rate well ahead of the levels needed to meet the September 11 deadline.