Canada to help Afghan collaborators to immigrate
September 15, 2009
OTTAWA—Canadian officials Tuesday unveiled measures to smooth the immigration process for Afghans working for Canadian troops who were badly wounded in the conflict or who took major risks to help them.
“There are Afghans who face extraordinary personal risk as a result of their work in support of Canada's mission in Kandahar,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
“Their lives and those of their families may be threatened by insurgents, and some have suffered serious injury and can no longer work. To recognize their contribution, we will offer them special consideration if they wish to relocate to Canada.”
The measures are due to be put into place next month, and will be applied to people who have worked for at least 12 months for the Canadian forces.
“In general, applicants must demonstrate that they face individualized and extraordinary risk or have suffered serious injury as a result of their work with the Canadian government,” the government statement said.
Successful applicants would get health care coverage and help with resettlement such as offered to refugees. Dependent children would also be eligible for immigration.
The program will be operational until the end of the Canadian operation in Kandahar in 2011, and will also extend to the spouses of Afghan nationals killed because of their work with the Canadian government.
Similar programs have already been put into place in Britain, Australia and Denmark for Iraqi citizens.
Canada on Monday vowed it would stick by its promise to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2011, just as Washington presses its allies to pour more resources into the eight-year war.
Canada has deployed 2,800 troops to the troubled Kandahar region as part of a NATO mission to expand central government control across the country and fight the Taliban insurgency.
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