With just weeks to go until US and NATO troops complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan, translators who worked for foreign forces tell AFP they are desperate to leave the country.

Embassies have issued thousands of visas to Afghan interpreters and their immediate families, but many have had their applications declined -- some for reasons they say were never fully explained.

Here are some of their voices:

"When an imam is not safe in a mosque or a 10-year-old girl is not safe in her school... how can we be safe?" asks Omid Mahmoodi, an interpreter attached to US forces between 2018 and 2020.

His work in Kabul and the southern Taliban bastion of Kandahar ended after he failed a routine polygraph test and he has since been refused a US visa.

Even though scientists agree there is little evidence lie-detector tests are reliably accurate, they are still used by the United States -- particularly when hiring people in sensitive roles.

Campaigners say those who have been dismissed by foreign forces deserve to have their visa cases reconsidered, as the Taliban will treat them all as collaborators.

"They are tracking us," Mahmoodi told AFP.

"The Taliban will not pardon us. They will kill us and they will behead us."

Omar fears that without leaving the country, he will not evade the Taliban for long.

He worked for the US embassy for around 10 years, but his contract was terminated after he also failed a polygraph test.

"I regret working for the US. It was the biggest mistake of my life," said Omar, who asked AFP not to use his full name.

While dozens of interpreters have been killed and tortured over the past two decades by militants, threats also come from even closer to home.

"My own uncle and cousins call me an agent of America," Omar said.

At a protest in Kabul last week, 32-year-old Waheedullah Hanifi said French officials turned down his bid for asylum after telling him they did not believe he was in danger, and he has not heard the outcome of an appeal filed in 2019. He worked with the French military between 2010 and 2012, when Paris pulled out its combat troops.

"We were the voice... for the French troops in Afghanistan and now they have left us to the Taliban," said the father of two.

He is now terrified about being hunted down.

"If I stay in the country, there is no chance of survival for me. The French army has betrayed us."

For those who have been given passage out of Afghanistan, the fight to protect loved ones left behind continues.

Jamal, 29, an interpreter for British forces, was shot twice during operations before being granted residency in Britain in 2015 where he settled in Coventry.

Six years later, his wife has only just been given clearance by the Ministry of Defence to join him.

His father, who worked as a groundskeeper on a British military base, remains in Lashkar Gah, the scene of intense fighting between the Taliban and government forces in recent months.

"When you've worked for the British army, when you've stood shoulder to shoulder with the British army, you expect something," Jamal told AFP.