They guarded the Australian embassy in Kabul for a decade. Now they need Australia’s help

Amir * has expelled his children from school because he fears they will be targeted because of his work with Australia.

Constantly moving houses and changing his appearance, he tries to protect himself from those who want to harm him because he saw the West as a person who helped.

“Everyone in our country is worried – especially those who are working abroad,” he told SBS News.

“Maybe tomorrow, a week, maybe a year later the Taliban will come.”

This The 36-year-old has worked as a security guard at the Australian Embassy in Kabul for more than a decade.

But he was one of 100 local staff who lost their jobs on Friday when the embassy was closed indefinitely due to security concerns as international troops left the country.

Another is Habib *, who is hoping to move his young family out of Afghanistan as soon as possible because of his work.

“They will easily kill us, people working with foreigners,” he told SBS News.

“We don’t know what happens in our country every minute. If we can’t, we have to move from here to another country immediately, because if they [the Taliban] Bring us here, and they will kill us. ”

Amir worked with an Australian diplomat for 10 years.

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Sudden policy change

Some security guards received an email from the State Department after the Australian government announced the closure of the embassy on Tuesday. He said he was “not eligible for reinstatement” because he had worked “as an employee of a private security company”.

But the policy changed after an inquiry by SBS News on Thursday afternoon.

The guards received a revised email from the department that removed the disqualification criteria, saying “security personnel can also apply for locally involved employee humanitarian visas.”

DFAT is not responding to a question from SBS News about the policy change.

Guards may be eligible to apply for a visa, but there is no guarantee of success and it can take many years for documents to be processed.

For now, Amir says he is free.

“I’m very happy now … we’re grateful, we appreciate it,” he said.

“We have kids, at least we can do something for their future.”

Waiting for time is dangerous

Prime Minister Scott Morrison I said Tuesday The departure of Australian and allied forces in the next few months brought with it an increasingly precarious security environment.

“The government has been advised that security arrangements cannot be made to support our ongoing diplomatic presence,” he said.

Meanwhile, DFAT officials will visit Afghanistan from other residential posts in the region.

A Taliban spokesman told the AFP news agency after the bandh was announced that it would be “provided” [diplomats] A safe environment for their activities. ”

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan assures all foreign diplomats and staff of humanitarian organizations [we] They are not threatened, ”he said.

But Ahmed Shah Shahi, a former Australian security force interpreter, said he did not believe the statement and claimed he knew what it was like to be threatened by the Taliban.

“I was sitting on the edge of a knife. I was threatened by the Taliban. I received a letter and a phone call last night. [saying] They would have targeted me, “he told SBS News.

“I can’t go out of my house, I feel like I’m in jail, I can’t go to the market and do family shopping.”

Former ADF interpreter Ahmed Shah Shahi

Former ADF interpreter Ahmed Shah Shahi

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His family came down one month ago after waiting seven years for a visa in Australia.

The former interpreter hoped that it would not take long for other staff to arrive in Australia, as the security situation in Afghanistan is now more dangerous than when he was there.

“The US military and the Australian defense force will withdraw from Afghanistan so there is no one to protect them, so they could be 100 per cent at risk, so they need it as soon as possible,” he said. He told SBS News.

John Blackland, a professor of international security, strategic and defense studies at the Australian National University, said security personnel in Australia would be less likely to be protected without a humanitarian visa before leaving the army in September.

“The lack of an embassy in Afghanistan has made it very difficult to manage and follow the protocol that enables these people to leave the country and come to Australia – it’s very challenging,” said Dr Blackland.

“We don’t have the foodprint to make it happen now.”

For Aamir, he hopes his children can enroll in an Australian school next year.

* The names in this story have been changed for security reasons.

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