Afghan collaborators launch the latest appeals to the Italian government. Are we doing something or do we leave it to the Taliban?

(To Lieta Zanatta)

“Last night was a devastating night. Five hundred Taliban attacked the city. They reached the Malan Bridge 5 kilometers southwest of Herat. Women and children fled. We are waiting for death every moment " - writes alarmed Y.

“Last night there was a fierce battle between the government and the Taliban. My family and I were terrified. We stayed up in the morning and couldn't sleep. The situation here is getting worse every day. Get us out of this hell as soon as possible! " - tells W.

"I have to leave Afghanistan, we would be killed, my daughter will be left without a father" - says A. heartfelt.

“I don't leave the house if there is no need. When are you taking us to Italy? " - asks Ns softly in a voice message.

These are some of the messages that follow one another in the smartphone. They came in clusters this morning, and each is a jab. They belong to the Afghans who collaborated with the Italian contingent.

Exhausting messages arrive every day, ever since the Italians left the base of Camp Arena on June 28, and the Taliban arrived as far as the city of Herat, practically without finding resistance.

Since the 9th of July there is Ismail Khan, an ex-mujahideen who organized the resistance, who with his militias has garrisoned and encircled the city. Inside there are 390 of our collaborators who risk their lives, and who are waiting to be taken to Italy with their families.
Ninety of them received, again on June 27, the confirmation that their asylum request was accepted. The others still nothing.
It must be said that in our country, still in June, 222 people were rescued, almost all interpreters with their families.

But most of the other collaborators had still submitted in May, in the offices of Camp Arena, a request to come to Italy, which had not been given any response. An unnerving wait that, in the situation in which Afghanistan is plunging, had worried them, so much so that they still organized a demonstration on 9 June to be heard.

The silence had prompted them to forward asylum applications also to the Italian embassy in Kabul, which had begun to acknowledge receipt of their e-mails after June 20.

Corps general Giorgio Battisti, who in Afghanistan held the position of chief of staff of the ISAF mission from January 2013 to 2014, and who launched the proposal that the Italian fighting associations and in particular that of of the Alpine troops may be interested in the Afghans who will arrive in Italy to help them integrate into our social fabric, he had confirmed again on June 28, after hearing the competent authorities, that “We take away from Herat all those who apply. There are more than a thousand ".

But it must be said that since our collaborators, except those 90, sent the asylum application, they have never received a hint from our government, an email, a word. A devastating silence in the midst of the roar of clashes that now take place every evening a few kilometers from the city.

They are locked up in the house, they only move if it is strictly necessary, for fear of being recognized and accused of being collaborators. They wait pinned in front of the computer for an email from our authorities that tells them one thing, only one: that the asylum application has been accepted.

It's chilling. It is not humanly acceptable to leave them like this, dejected, distressed, terrified in this limbo every day more and more desperate.

Entire families, all young people with small children, must know what to bring with them, what to leave, what to sell (or sell off ...), some even the house.

"If the Italian government is in no hurry, we will all die" - says A.

A news dated May 12, of the beheading of an interpreter, Sohail Pardis who had served the Americans and had not received a visa to leave the country, bounced around just a few days ago in local newspapers and agencies, throwing them all into panic. "It will be up to us too" they wrote in their messages.

“Do you know what awaits us if we stay here? Certain death! " exclaims W.

The 90 questions concern employees of companies who worked inside Camp Arena during the period of the pandemic. Staff in charge of kitchens, cleaning, etc. But the other requests, three hundred or more, of those who are waiting, are also external logistics personnel, who have contributed to the construction and maintenance of the roads, the laying of fences and gates, excavations and laying of barbed wire; are suppliers of diesel fuel, of specific material (e.g. generators), which have provided for the purging of the cesspools, since, it must be remembered, Camp Arena has hosted in some periods up to four thousand and more people than every day, every evening , evacuated their needs.

Not to forget the shopkeepers, the shopkeepers who sold the famous Afghan carpets, the local manufactures, the memories that each of our soldiers took home. PX shopkeepers, places that sell everything from razor blades to detergents to gorex jackets.
The owners of the questions are almost all young, they all know English, speak Italian and even recognize our dialect inflections. They fraternized with our soldiers. They know our culture, they love it, they follow our football championship and they know the taste of limoncello. During the World Cup the cheering was only for Italy.

Many of them have university degrees, degrees (in economics, law, engineering) as well as their wives, who do extremely skilled jobs. They have children, they want them to study.

“What do I want my daughters to do when they grow up? I do not know. In the meantime, let them study, then they will decide. One wants to become a doctor " - N says and so answer all his other colleagues of their daughters. "At the moment my wife looks after the children, who are small. But when they are older she wants to finish university and go to teach, like her sister did ".

They don't wait for manna from heaven, they have life plans for a future in Italy. They want to work. There are those who want to open a shop, those who want a business, those who want to finish their studies, those who want to take a piece of land to cultivate it.

This type of immigration is qualified, for us they would be citizens who would contribute to the growth of our country. "Italy has done an excellent service to Afghanistan for 20 years, it has done so much for us" - they all say, and for this they are grateful.

Of course, it is necessary to check who enters, the authorities say, and this wastes a lot of time. That time that is missing now. But at this point one wonders if these people have not been checked enough during the entire time they have been in contact with our soldiers, since they have worked for us five, ten, fifteen and even twenty years, since the first. moment we set foot in Afghanistan. And then this would be our fault ... And instead in all these years "We have had three interviews every six months" - says A. "One in the family information section, one with the Italian Intelligence and one with the US Intelligence Department. Only then could we receive the new pass to enter the Camp Arena base. I had 66 interviews in 11 years"... What do we still need to check?

These collaborators are losing hope of being welcomed in Italy every day. This silence is psychologically undermining them. We give them that answer they are waiting for. We can't treat them like that. We owe it to him.

The safety of our soldiers also depended on them. Since every now and then we don't care to be and to tell us about it, are we still “Italians good people”?

Photo: Herat Times / author