The Ministry of National Defence responds to the swift change of the situation in Afghanistan and makes every effort to bring to Lithuania the translators who worked with the Lithuanian Armed Forces during the international NATO mission in Afghanistan.
“We are maintaining a constant contact with the translators, we have been since recently as well as at the moment. It is very important for us to know their physical location and if we have an opportunity to help in the nearest few days or hours. We have several options in mind how we could provide refuge to those Afghan translators who have not yet fled Afghanistan and to their families, and we are doing everything we can to make it happen as soon as possible,” said Vice Minster of National Defence Margiris Abukevičius at a press conference Monday.
The Ministry of National Defence has been in touch with several dozens of translators that wish to flee Afghanistan for a while now. They were asked to provide necessary documents and the flight from Afghanistan to Lithuania was going to take place in late August.
According to Vice Minister M. Abukevičius, since the Taliban has seized power in Afghanistan, the Ministry is forced to respond to the new developments and look for new options immediately. The plan that was still good on Friday is no longer good today.
“This is a complicate process. The key question is how long it would take these people to get to Kabul. There is no transport infrastructure in Afghanistan at the moment. Then we would assess their situations individually,” said Vice Minister. He added that not all the translators who worked with the Lithuanian Armed Forces were in Afghanistan, some had moved out, and some did not respond to the letters.
The Ministry of National Defence had an intense solution planning ongoing together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior and the Migration Department for a while. A Migration Department session was held to adopt the necessary decisions.
For nearly 20 years Lithuania was a part of the mission in Afghanistan launched on the basis of the NATO Article 5 which was activated for that purpose for the first time in history. Roughly 5000 Lithuanian troops served in Afghanistan in 2002-2021 in two major NATO operations: ISAF in 2002 – 2014, an Resolute Support in 2015 – 2021.
NATO Ministers of Defence took the decision to withdraw the Resolute Support forces from Afghanistan on April 14. Last Lithuanian soldiers deployed home in July.
Photo credits: A.Pliadis/ MoD.