Iraqi interpreters coming to Australia

by John Quiggin on April 9, 2008

I only saw this item flashing briefly across the TV screen, but I’m sure it will be of interest to CT readers. The new Australian government, which is withdrawing combat troops (though not some troops guarding our embassy) from Iraq, has announced that Iraqis who have worked with Australian forces in Iraq will be offered resettlement in Australia. The estimated number of Iraqis to receive visas, including family members, is 600. Australia had only about 500 troops on average, so that gives an idea of the scale of commitment that might be expected from the UK and US if they met their obligations in a comparable fashion.

The decision to accept the interpreters ahead of other refugees has been criticised, but I think this is justified. The essential point should be to treat this intake as additional to, rather than part of, our general obligation to accept refugees.

Updating on the same point, this Times story indicates that the first three workers to be accepted under the much more restrictive British program have finally arrived in the UK, and that the program has so far delivered visas to a total of 12 Iraqis and their families. The total estimated intake is 2000.



Sk 04.09.08 at 10:37 pm

Stupid snark from banned commenter deleted


SG 04.10.08 at 12:39 am

So, another example perhaps of how Rudd is not quite the Tony Blair many cynical observers were expecting…?


greensmile 04.10.08 at 1:49 am

This makes US immigration policy and particularly US reluctance to take on Iraqis via refugee status look so stupid.

My employer has required me to get our marriage certificate translated for purposes of documenting legitimacy of insurance coverage for dependents. That is another stupidity in its own right and a vexation but I digress. I looked high and low for a certified translator of Farsi and in the Boston area it should be a snap…but none found yet. My old employers, SAIC, is absolutely begging for people literate in Arabic or Farsi to work in certain of its DC-area offices…you could make a damn nice wage just for knowing how to read if you could get through all the security clearance hoops.

I think Oz has just scored a windfall and should contact SAIC and other such US employers about outsourcing for skills the US denys itself.


Witt 04.10.08 at 1:54 am

I’ve probably linked this before, but the intense frustration of the glacial pace of US admitance of Iraqi refugees is compounded by their troubles locating employment, as illustrated here:

LEWISTON, Maine – Safaa Wadi moved to this former mill city after his life was threatened in his native Iraq while serving as an interpreter for the US Army. He expects to soon head back to Iraq – not as a civilian interpreter, but as a US soldier.

Mr. Wadi arrived in the United States in September with a special immigrant visa for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters. But with his savings nearly depleted and unable to land a decent job, Wadi enlisted in the Army.


abb1 04.10.08 at 7:05 am

I looked high and low for a certified translator of Farsi and in the Boston area it should be a snap

Greensmile, I’m not a lawyer, but are you sure you really need a certified translator? Translate it yourself, have someone (anyone) confirm that the translation is correct and notarize his/her signature – and I’m pretty sure it’ll count as a valid affidavit.


Mikhail 04.10.08 at 7:30 am

While supporting wholeheartedly the adherence of Australian government to its commitment to these people who helped soldiers in difficult time & place, I cannot help but wonder… doesn’t this totally defeat the purpose? wasn’t the point to build an independent country, not one which the soldiers and anyone who is associated with them would have to flee sooner or later…?


Shan 04.10.08 at 7:46 am

@6 “wasn’t the point to build an independent country”

I think that _became_ the selling point. I seem to recall us marching off to war because Saddam posed this imminent WMD threat &c. &c.

You have to smile because the alternatives are pretty grim!


Sk 04.10.08 at 1:30 pm

please go away



abb1 04.10.08 at 1:42 pm

…America is still attempting to ‘spread’ it [civilization], for better or for worse.

That’s your interpretation. More obvious interpretation would be that ‘America’ (the Bushies, that is) don’t give a hoot about translators or civilization.


john i 04.10.08 at 3:25 pm

Having first hand family experience of the situation of Iraqi refugees in Amman, many of whom had worked with American forces, I am ashamed at the absolutely glacial pace and tiny scope of what the US is doing for these people. They are truly stuck. Many are working on the black market as cab drivers and trying not to get deported back by the Jordanians while the US takes months and years to triple check that all who apply for refugee status never had any sort of Baath ties, never mind their very dangerous service to the US cause. Bah.


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