Kabul safe houses need $5 million by Friday to stay open, say veterans

Kabul safe houses need $5 million by Friday to stay open, say veterans
Afghans wait inside the passport office in Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Afghans are lining up by the thousands at the Afghan Passport office to get new passports, possibly to leave, uncertain what tomorrow will bring as they witness the final withdrawal of the U.S. military and its NATO allies. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

OTTAWA — Canadian veterans who fought in Afghanistan say another $5 million is needed to keep safe houses in Kabul open past a Friday closure deadline.

The safe houses are protecting about 1,700 former Afghan interpreters and their families who helped the Canadian military and diplomatic efforts but the initial $2 million raised is almost gone.

Retired combat engineer Corey Shelson says closing the sanctuaries will leave their occupants at the mercy of Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers who stormed back to power in mid-August.

Veterans advocates such as Shelson are hoping that Canadian citizens will answer the call to help continue funding the safe houses because there is no guarantee the federal government will step up and offer funds.

Shelson says that’s because the safe houses cost about $20,000 to $30,000 per day to operate.

He says the cost continues to tick higher and higher because the federal Immigration Department has been too slow to approve travel documents for Afghan interpreters, which is driving up the cost of protection.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 2, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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