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Islamabad, Pakistan

Understanding experiences with betrayal and anticipation of reintegration among former U.S. military-affiliated Afghan interpreters

The Corioli team is set to collect life histories related to experiences with betrayal as well as the anticipation of societal reintegration through semi-structured interviews with former Afghan interpreters that worked with the U.S. military and are now displaced into Pakistan. These interpreters are technically eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) to the U.S. for their work with the U.S. military; however, the process to obtain that visa is long and riddled with inefficiencies and bureaucratic stalling. The crisis in Afghanistan has therefore pushed a lot of these interpreters with pending visa approval into Pakistan. As they are forced to wait for visa slots with the US embassy to become available for themselves and their families, their status as illegal migrants in Pakistan leaves them unable to work, being thus pushed into living in transitional camps or under highly marginalized conditions.

The Corioli Institute, in partnership with the advocacy NGO No One Left Behind, will be conducting research with them in Islamabad, focusing specifically on the fact that these individuals are currently living amidst what they often understand as a betrayal by the U.S. government to them in terms of issuing a visa that they are due because of the service they provided. This case is particularly remarkable in terms of this population segment’s grappling with feelings of betrayal and their journey in (re)building trust. Unlike situations where betrayals might have occurred years or decades ago, these individuals are in the midst of navigating the intricate psychosocial and institutional complexities that come with experiencing firsthand betrayal.

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