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Afghan wins asylum in Lithuania after Taliban death threats

A 22-year-old Afghan Man Who Received Taliban Death Threats Over His Work For The Lithuanian Army In The War-torn Country Has Won Asylum In The Baltic State After Reaching Out On Social Media, The Interior Ministry Said Today.

PTI | Updated on: 18 May 2016, 08:01:42 PM
Afghan wins asylum in Lithuania after Taliban death threats (Representational Image)


A 22-year-old Afghan man who received Taliban death threats over his work for the Lithuanian army in the war-torn country has won asylum in the Baltic state after reaching out on social media, the interior ministry said today.

Abdul Basir Yoususi, who worked as an interpreter for Lithuania’s NATO contingent in the central province of Ghor, fled his homeland earlier this year, embarking on a dangerous two-month journey to Europe.

He launched an emotional appeal on YouTube from a refugee camp in Greece in March, asking Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite for asylum.

Yoususi, who has a two-year-old daughter, said he had faced death threats from the hardline Taliban militia after Lithuanian forces left Ghor in 2013.

“Everything changed when the Taliban sent me a threatening letter. They said I was Catholic not a Muslim so they would chop off my head, hang me,” he told local media earlier this month.

“I turned to local police and I was told that neither they nor the military could do anything. They suggested I get a pistol.”

Lithuanian Deputy Interior Minister Elvinas Jankevicius told AFP that the authorities had checked out his claims. “He is indeed in danger, so we granted him international protection and refugee status,” Jankevicius said.

A grateful Yoususi, who picked up Lithuanian after initially working for the troops as a cleaner, said he is now waiting for his family to join him from Afghanistan.

“I’m not exactly sure how they’re doing. I haven’t been in touch with them for 10 days,” he told the Baltic News Service today. “The situation is really bad there. There’s no safety, there is war all the time.”

Yoususi is one of thousands of Afghan interpreters who risked their lives for foreign troops over the years and who have since sought asylum or visas to escape Taliban reprisals.

Some of the interpreters who managed to emigrate have notably called on the British and US governments to not abandon their colleagues back home.

Lithuania first sent troops to Afghanistan in 2002 after the US-led overthrow of the Taliban regime there.

Lithuanian soldier Jurgis Norvaisa, who was posted in Afghanistan in 2012, said he recognised Yoususi when he saw the video circulating on social media.

“He interpreted from Lithuanian to Dari Persian and vice versa. He helped us in our contact with the local people,” Norvaisa told AFP last month.

Lithuania has agreed to welcome 1,105 migrants over two years under an EU relocation programme for asylum seekers to help ease Europe’s migration crisis. So far only 11 refugees from Iraq and Syria have arrived in the EU member of three million people, Jankevicius said. 

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First Published : 18 May 2016, 07:58:00 PM