Mohammed and Yusuf feel abandoned.Until last year, the former medical students worked in a hospital run by South Korean forces at the U.S. Air Base at Bagram in Afghanistan.They lost their jobs after the South Koreans withdrew from the country.We've changed their names to protect family members back home.
“I went to Bagram airfield for six years.I was just, you know, covering my face, going from home and coming back covering my face, so the people don't know where I am working.”
Mohammed and Yusuf applied for Special Immigrant Visas or SIVs, a program set up to help Afghan and Iraqi nationals who worked with U.S. forces to gain asylum in the United States.VOA has seen their documentation.
“At the end they told me that you are not eligible for this visa.Then I asked why, they said because we have been working with the Korean people.But the Korean hospital was located in Bagram airfield.Bagram airfield is U.S. property.”
Then they asked the South Korean government for help.
“They told us that Korea is a tiny country, and we don't have any asylum over there. ”
After receiving threats from the Taliban, they fled to Europe, with Mohammed's 16-year-old son.
They now live in a makeshift refugee camp at the former Olympic Park in Athens.Their bed is a concrete floor; they don't even have a tent.
“There is no hygiene, the situation is very bad.And I am a PA，Physician's Assistant，and Medical Interpreter.But why I am here, just what should I do here?”
A U.S. State Department official told VOA in an email that amendments had been made to include certain Afghans who were employed by the International Security Assistance Force.The statement added that, improving the processing time remains an area of focus both here in Washington and at our embassy in Kabul.Mohammed's decision is on appeal, but he has been given no time frame.One of the several U.S. Army doctors, who provided Mohammed with a reference for his visa application, told VOA via Skype that he is dismayed by his former colleague's situation.
“I really have very little concern that he would be a threat of any kind to the US, just by the character that he presented.And of course the level of competency he brings in relative to his skill as well as his language abilities, you know, again can only do positive things for the receiving nation.
VOA spoke to several Afghan refugees in Greece who said they were awaiting decisions on SIV applications.The U.S. government says it has issued more than 20,000 visas to Afghan nationals since October 2014.For Mohammed and Yusuf, the wait goes on.