Rejected Afghan asylum seeker asks Estonians for help again (10)

"Omar" Photo: ERR
7/20/2015 12:05 PM
Category: International

Translator Omar who worked for three years as a Pashto-English interpreter for the Estonian troops in Afghanistan and whose asylum plea was rejected by Estonia in 2013, has contacted many Estonians via Internet, asking for help.

Many local translators and other staff, who worked with allied forces during the war in Afghanistan, were later provided safe haven in the US, Canada and Europe, but the Estonian government decided to turn down Omar's asylum request in May 2013, on the grounds that “his life was not in danger“, despite him receiving many threats. Another politician said that by granting him asylum, "Estonia would send out a message that Afghanistan is not left a better place than it was before the allied forces moved in."

The conclusion received lots of internal criticism and even President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said at the time that Estonia has a moral obligation to help those who have helped its units in Afghanistan. Estonian Afghan veterans also praised Omar highly, almost as one of their own.

It has now emerged that after negative decision, Omar escaped to India instead and recently made contact again with a few Estonian journalists and NGO activists.

He said that he had been beaten up several times, after Estonian troops left Afghanistan. He managed to flee to India and is currently living in Punjab province, where he studies business administration.

Because studying is expensive, he has now appealed via email to many prominent Estonians, asking for financial help for about 3,700 euros (4,000 dollars) to cover his annual cost of university fees, rent and food. Somewhat ironically, he has also sent a money request to former foreign minister Urmas Paet, who at the time was against granting asylum to Omar.

Omar told online portal Delfi last week that he would like to continue his studies in Estonia, possibly at the University of Tartu, because he feels that this country would offer him more opportunities than India. He also mentioned having friends in Estonia as another reason.

Eero Janson from the NGO Estonian Refugee Council added to Delfi that group of Estonians are currently arranging a money pool called "Fund for Omar", to support the former translator.

S. Tambur

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