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How a government decision is putting interpreters’ lives in danger

For many years, the US government has employed hundreds of locally-based translators and interpreters in Iraq. Now, it’s cutting back on its translation needs, and has ended its contracts with most of them. For these interpreters, this means more than losing work; it could mean losing their lives.

Because they’ve associated with the US government but are no longer under its protection, they fear reprisal from organizations like ISIS and militant groups from Iran.

Many of these former interpreters are now in hiding. For those who don’t want to live that way, a positive future seems impossible. As one translator explains, "Maybe I can start a shop, but there will be people who will recognize me. If I want to look for a job with another company, I cannot put on my CV, 'I was an interpreter with the U.S. Army,'" he says. "That means I'm asking someone to kill me."

Read on to learn more about the plight of Iraq’s former US government interpreters.

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Contact Our Writer – Alysa Salzberg

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