Afghan translator who put life in danger for UK begs PM to bring him to safety

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Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban
Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban's military takeover in August 2021 (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

An abandoned Afghan translator who served with our troops yesterday begged Rishi Sunak to bring him to safety in Britain.

He is one of 4,300 fellow nationals who worked with the British, many with families, yet remain in limbo two years after the Taliban takeover despite being entitled to asylum here. The 32-year-old man, who we are calling Ali, said: “I put mine and my family’s lives in danger for the UK – this is not what we deserve.”

Ali has been in a UK-funded hotel in Pakistan since 2021. His wife and ­children are trapped in Afghanistan. In his message to Mr Sunak, he added: “I’m also a husband and father. This is not friendship, the way you’re treating us. I ask you this: What is the difference between an Afghan human and a British human?”

Afghan translator who put life in danger for UK begs PM to bring him to safety eideziqkeiqhhinvThere is a risk of reprisal by the Taliban (AFP via Getty Images)

Ali fled to Pakistan two months after British and US troops left Afghanistan in 2021. He missed out on the Kabul airlift of 122,000 people. Thousands left behind faced the threat of Taliban beatings and torture. British authorities told Afghans to apply for visas from a neighbouring country while in hotels funded by the UK. Ali said he passed security checks for a visa last year but is still waiting. Former Army major-general Charlie Herbert, said: “I fought alongside many of these brave Afghans. We have a moral obligation to them.”

Rachel Hopkins, Labour’s Shadow Veterans Minister, said: “The Conservatives are failing Afghans who risked their lives helping our Forces.” The Refugee Council says for every refugee let in through the government’s Afghan resettlement scheme, 90 try small boat Channel crossings.

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Refugee Council Chief Enver Solomon said: “These people risked everything for the UK.” The Home Office said it “remained committed” to protecting at-risk people fleeing Afghanistan “and so far we have brought around 24,500 to the UK”. Last month it was announced 2,000 more and their families had visas confirmed but were told by the Home Office “we are unable to say how long it will take us to find accommodation for you.”

Afghan translator who put life in danger for UK begs PM to bring him to safetyLabour’s Shadow Veterans Minister Rachel Hopkins

Earlier this year, another Afghan interpreter injured in a Taliban attack while working with the British Army said he believes his 13-year wait for compensation is unfair and a result of racism. Jamal Barack was 18 when he was shot in the arm and chest during an ambush on the Army’s Scots Guards in Helmand Province.

Three weeks after lifesaving surgery he returned to work – despite his pain. Now 30, he lives in Glasgow with his wife, who is due to give birth in weeks, and cannot work due to his ongoing suffering. As a result, they are living in poverty on Universal Credit.

In 2019, the Ministry of Defence vowed Afghans hurt working with us would get compensation – but despite repeated applications, he has yet to receive a penny. Col Simon Diggins, an ex-British defence attache in Kabul, said: “The treatment between Afghan interpreters wounded in service and British soldiers is based on race. It is shared risk, shared service and they should be treated equitably.”

Jamal agreed with him, saying: “What the colonel said is correct. We are being discriminated against – the policy is racist. If a British soldier was wounded he would get compensation very quickly. This is not the case with the Afghan interpreters.”

John Siddle

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