This is our reward, says group of Afghan interpreters ‘left behind by the UK’

·3 min read

A group of seven interpreters trapped in Afghanistan have said being left behind is their “reward” for helping the UK.

The group has more than 40 years of service between them in various roles alongside British forces and authorities, and many have been the victim of violent attacks from the Taliban as a result.

Despite this, they told the PA news agency their applications for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme have been rejected.

The group are currently in hiding, unable to work for fear of being recognised by Taliban fighters, and said they have been spied on by people in their area.

“Daily we are calling our family and changing our telephone numbers,” Mohammad, whose name has been changed for his security, told PA.

“We deserve to be evacuated. We deserve to be recognised.

“We are really concerned about the future of our children. In two or three years, they may get brainwashed by the Taliban in their schools.

“We want our children to have a good life at least. We were left behind. This was our reward.”

Under the Arap scheme, any Afghans who assisted UK efforts in Afghanistan, such as interpreters, can apply to come to the UK due to their risk of persecution at the hands of the Taliban.

The interpreters fear persecution from the Taliban for their service to the UK (Felipe Dana/AP)
The interpreters fear persecution from the Taliban for their service to the UK (Felipe Dana/AP)

In 2011 Mohammad was injured during a Taliban attack while he worked a midnight shift as a CCTV operator at the British embassy in Kabul.

“At about 5.30am, a mini truck car hit the British embassy gate and destroyed the building and barriers,” he said.

“Following that, another group of Taliban, in total four suicide bombers… (entered) the British embassy.

“My windows were damaged due to the blasts … two of my colleagues got injured (and) I brought them into the room.

“The terrorist came and shot at me from the window. I covered myself, so he threw a hand grenade in my room. I got injured in my belly and (had) about 26 operation stitches.

“It took me about six months to heal from my injuries.”

Other members of the group said they had witnessed further attacks around the embassy but “stayed there on the front line and protected our clients and did our service to the embassy to protect them”.

All seven of the trapped interpreters said they resigned from their posts with British authorities several years ago – some due to injuries they sustained while in employment and death threats from the Taliban.

Abdul, whose name has also been changed, said he left his role after being shot by a Taliban fighter.

Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan
Many in the UK continue to call on the Government to offer further help to those trapped in Afghanistan (Yui Mok/PA)

An MoD spokesperson said: “During Operation Pitting we worked tirelessly to safely evacuate as many people out of Afghanistan as possible, airlifting more than 15,000 people from Kabul, including thousands of Arap applicants and their dependents.

“We will continue to do all we can to support those who have supported us and our commitment to those who are eligible for relocation is not time-limited and will endure.

“Those who were dismissed for serious offences, including those that constitute a crime in the UK or threatened the safety and security of British troops, will continue to be excluded.”

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