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Outrage at the betrayal of our loyal Afghan interpreters

26 May 2018 Daily Mail Online

Afghan translator Fardin, whose face has been obscured, on patrol with British troopsMinisters have ‘dismally failed’ to protect loyal Afghan interpreters who served alongside UK troops from the Taliban, MPs say today.An inquiry by the defence select committee concludes that ‘dangerously exposed’ interpreters should be given a new life in Britain.MPs said the Ministry of Defence’s ‘intimidation scheme’, under which translators have to prove a threat to their life before they are allowed into the UK, had failed to bring a single one to safety in this country.The explosive report states that claims by the MoD that no interpreters have faced threats warranting their relocation to the UK are ‘totally implausible’.It draws on evidence of the threats facing interpreters gathered by the Daily Mail’s Betrayal of the Brave campaign.Since 2015 the campaign has exposed countless scandals in which Afghan interpreters who put themselves in danger to help UK troops have been abandoned. The report says: ‘We have a duty of care to those who risked everything to help our armed forces in Afghanistan.’Dr Julian Lewis, chairman of the cross-party committee, said: ‘This is not only a matter of honour. 'How we treat our former interpreters and local employees, many of whom served with great bravery, will send a message to the people we would want to employ in future military campaigns – about whether we can be trusted to protect them from reprisals at the hands of our enemies.’





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The findings will pile further pressure on Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and Home Secretary Sajid Javid to overhaul current policy on Afghan interpreters. Last night the MoD said it would review the report and its recommendations.

Headline in Daily Mail on January 27 this yearThere are currently two schemes under which interpreters who served alongside UK troops can be given sanctuary in the UK.The ‘relocation scheme’ only allows interpreters into the UK if they were serving on an arbitrary date in December 2012. They also have to have served at least 12 months in Helmand province.The report cites former Afghan interpreter Rafi Hottak who said this meant that ‘many who risked the most on the front line and faced threats do not qualify’.

Headline in Daily Mail on April 28 this yearBut the report says this scheme had been ‘generous’ in allowing interpreters who lost their jobs when UK forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan into Britain.This generosity had, however, contrasted starkly with the ‘total failure to offer similar sanctuary to interpreters’ under the intimidation scheme, it says.This failure comes despite the Mail campaign revealing how Afghan interpreters and their families have been shot at, threatened and even executed after being branded ‘spies and infidels’ by the Taliban. The Mail’s evidence to the inquiry included testimony from former interpreters and their families still in Afghanistan and those who have made it to Britain.The report says: ‘The intimidation scheme has dismally failed to give any meaningful assurance of protection. 'Given our Government’s own stark assessment of the perilous Afghan security situation, the idea that no interpreters… have faced threats and intimidation warranting their relocation to the UK is totally implausible.’The report says ministers must allow interpreters who face ‘serious and verifiable threats’ to come to Britain, adding that there is ‘ample scope’ for a looser and more sympathetic approach to the application of the scheme.

It says: ‘The Government must abandon its policy of leaving former interpreters and other loyal personnel dangerously exposed in a country deemed too dangerous for those charged with assessing their claims [of intimidation] to venture out from their bases in order to do so.’ The report also says that those interpreters already in the UK must also be given ‘indefinite leave to remain’ so they can stay without fear of being kicked out.Earlier this month the Mail revealed concerns about the relocation scheme. More than 150 interpreters said they feared they would be booted out because they could not afford the £2,389 fee to apply for indefinite leave.Mr Javid then waived the fee, which they would have had to have paid after five years in the UK.The MoD said: ‘We thank the committee for their report, which notes that more than 400 interpreters and local staff have relocated to the UK with their families, and we will now review the report and its recommendations.’   HERO 1: 'Taliban are hunting me and I'm terrified'  An Afghan translator credited with helping save the lives of dozens of British soldiers trapped for nearly two months by the Taliban said yesterday that their fighters have been trying to hunt him down.Fardin, 37, said that twice in the past ten days a suspected Taliban fighter had been in his home neighbourhood of the Afghan capital Kabul asking neighbours and shopkeepers exactly where he lives with his wife and children.‘I am terrified,’ he said. ‘My wife is crying constantly. All the evidence is that they are searching for me and that can only be for one reason… to kill me because I work for the British. They know what I look like, they know what I did for the British and they want revenge.’Fardin, who still works with British forces in Kabul, was one of three Afghan interpreters who were the ‘eyes and ears’ of 88 soldiers cut off and surrounded by 500 Taliban at the outpost of Musa Qala in Helmand for 56 days. He monitored Taliban radio signals, providing vital details of planned attacks.Despite his bravery and the fact he has worked with the British for more than a decade, he has been told he does not qualify for sanctuary in the UK because he did not spend a full year on the front line.The refusal to help Fardin and his family has outraged former soldiers. Sergeant Freddie Kruyer, 49, an ex-intelligence officer, said Fardin and his two colleagues were ‘instrumental’ in saving soldiers’ lives a ‘number of times’ during the siege in autumn 2006.The extraordinary bravery of the men and the key role of interpreters in brokering a ceasefire was highlighted in a book about the siege, No Way Out, which was serialised in the Mail earlier this month. HERO 2: Tragedy of translator ordered out of Britain  An interpreter who worked for British troops in Afghanistan killed himself in 2016 after being told he did not qualify for asylum in the UK and would be deported.Nangyalai Dawoodzai, 29, was said to have been ‘deeply depressed’ about the threat of being thrown out of the country despite working with British forces in Helmand.Fellow interpreters said he had spoken of suicide in the weeks leading up to his death in April 2016. He hanged himself at a friend’s flat in West Bromwich. Mr Dawoodzai had paid people smugglers to reach the UK after receiving Taliban death threats.But he was told he could not stay in Britain because he had been fingerprinted in Italy and had to claim asylum there. It is believed he did not qualify for the ‘relocation scheme’ because of its strict rules about working for the British in December 2012 and serving for 12 months in Helmand. 

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