Refugees Need Translation Support in Europe

Refugees Need Translation Support in Europe
on October 15, 2015 1 Comment

Refugees Need Translation Support in Europe

It is a fact that the recent mass migration and refugee influx in European countries has caused stress on many areas of government business, but interestingly, communication has not been a major challenge. While the migrants are comprised of primarily three or 4 major countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya and other Asian and African countries, European nations have experienced to communicate with these migrants in their own languages. All countries are exhausted and can allocate only so much resources.

Migrants Speak English

Because most of the migrants flocking towards Europe are fleeing from bad economic conditions, they have enough resources to pay for their journey there. This suggests that they come from the middle class or at least educated population in their native countries. As such a large number of immigrants in Europe speak English language which makes the work of aid workers and host nations slightly easier. However, the problem remains with the fact that their documents are in their native languages and more than often difficult to translate at a professional level into one of the European languages. Additionally, forged documentation is an enormous business fueled by people smugglers to justify refugee claims in host nations. Professional translators can express their thoughts and comment on irregularities in source documentation such as the date being wrong, wrong spelling of the issuing agency name in the original language and so on. Getting such documentation translated on the fly by interpreters pose the risk of allowing such issues slip by which could cause issues later on.

Professional Translation for Refugee Documents

At Afghan Translation Service, we have been receiving a larger than normal number of requests to translate refugee documents into English or other languages. Most of these documents were issued in Arabic, Dari, Pashto, Farsi, Kurdish and Urdu languages. Translating them into English is fairly easy and straight forward but local authorities may prefer to get the translation in the language of the host nation. For example, it is not sufficient to submit an English translation of an Arabic birth certificate to authorities in Austria who may need to get it translated into German in order to satisfy their language regulations. This is possible but not only inefficient and costly, but also pose a risk of higher error margin when the translation goes through English language in transit. Having the right partner to translate such documents directly into the desired target language brings a lot of value.

Handling the Translation Chaos

As mentioned above, the right partner with proper qualification can make a big difference. European countries are proud of their languages and heritage, and by law require communication to be in their official languages. The increasing number of refugees on European borders are worsening the translation and language problems that officials in these countries are facing. While non-governmental organizations such as Translators without Borders have been active and providing great support, the European countries must have a clear and defined mandate for translation of refugee documentation into the languages of the host countries. Such a system will help to deal with the ever growing need for translation of such documentation and curb any issues with bad translation and margins of error.
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The European immigrant crisis is not going to go away easily or any time soon. Translation and language barriers will remain a challenge and the host nations must find ways to reduce their costs, increase scrutiny and assessment of newcomers for security reasons, and they must get the most accurate meaning for documents presented to them. This can only be achieved with proper planning and developing centralized policies by host nations.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced any translation related issues in Europe?

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