Britain’s “debt of honour” to Afghan interpreters (one pictured above, his face blurred for security purposes, helping Prince Harry), who worked with British troops during the Afghanistan war is being ignored. Instead bureaucracy is being allowed to get in the way of protecting those targeted by the Taliban for having assisted allied forces.
The Daily Telegraph reports in recent months Taliban death threats have led to more than 60 of an estimated 600 Afghan interpreters (one pictured above, his face blurred for security purposes, helping Prince Harry), who once worked alongside British troops fighting the war in Afghanistan, contacting UK law firm Leigh Day for assistance with getting out of the country.
In total it has been reported that 200 Afghan interpreters who worked for British forces have applied for help after receiving Taliban threats for being “infidel spies.”
British police working in Kabul recommended those threatened take self-protective steps such as changing their cars and telephones, but none have been granted asylum in Britain.
Contrasting the British response to that of other “more generous nations”, one former general said that there “should be no question that given what they have done for us and our soldiers, that we should help them.” He continued:
“It’s curmudgeonly somehow and ungraceful to continuously let bureaucracy get in the way if they are facing difficulties and threats.”
A one-off assistance scheme, offering an option to relocate to Britain for those Afghans who served on the front line in Helmand province for at least 12 months and were still working as of December 2012, was put in place by the British government last year. Those who fell outside those parameters were forced to stay.
One example of those who have been refused asylum is “Shaffy”, a father of three who for six years worked as one of the British Army’s most senior interpreters. This included working for Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011, during which time he was photographed. Those pictures have been used by the Taliban to say he spied for Britain.
Shaffy accuse the British government of abandoning him, despite working for six years until 2013 with the British military and being caught up in two bomb blasts. He says threats against him have grown recently with the Taliban almost capturing him twice.
It has been reported that the British government is now reviewing Shaffy’s case having refused him asylum, but that any further steps to protect him are unlikely to involve bringing him and his family to the UK.
Human rights lawyer Rosa Curling represents Afghan interpreters. She told The Daily Telegraph: “We receive several cases every week from individuals explaining that they are at risk.
“They are totally, totally desperate, they are heartbreaking calls to receive. They are getting death threats, letters under their doors, messages by mobile and threats in the local mosque.”
Former Chief of the General Staff, Lord Dannatt, told The Daily Telegraph last week:
“We have a moral obligation to look after them. If they feel they are not able to live their previous life they have earned the right to come and live in this country.
“I know that immigration is a real problem but the number we are talking about is so small that actually making a fuss about it is a real embarrassment. We have a debt of honour.
“If we are failing in our moral obligation and have a genuine concern that people are at threat, and that threat is carried out, then their blood is on our conscience and on our hands.”