Afghan translators fleeing the Taliban land in Britain

By: AFP      Published: 08:51 PM, 23 Jun, 2021
Afghan translators fleeing the Taliban land in Britain

Afghan translators who worked with the British military and fear reprisal attacks from the Taliban have arrived in the UK as part of a relocation scheme, campaigners said on Wednesday.

The Sulha Alliance for Afghan interpreters told AFP the first group of around 30 translators and their families landed in Birmingham, central England, on Tuesday evening, adding they expected the arrivals would go into Covid quarantine for 14 days.

The government declined to comment on the reports about the departure of the flight over concerns about the safety of the relocating Afghan translators and their families.

At the end of May, Britain announced it would accelerate plans for the relocation of Afghan staff who worked with the military and their families ahead of a planned withdrawal of US-led NATO forces.

Under a relocation scheme for former and current Afghan staff, more than 1,300 workers and their families have been brought to Britain

More than 3,000 Afghans are expected to be resettled under the accelerated plans, the government said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the government has a "moral obligation" to relocate staff and to "recognise the risks they faced in the fight against terrorism and reward their efforts".

Retired Colonel Simon Diggins, the former British attache in Kabul and now a campaigner for the Sulha Alliance, said the translators would receive four months of support after which he said, "the real struggle begins".

Afghan translators and other local staff who worked with Britain and other NATO members such as the United States, Germany and France have clamoured to be relocated for fear of Taliban reprisals. 

In the two decades since the US-led invasion, dozens of Afghan translators have been killed or tortured in targeted assaults by the radical Islamist group.

Even more have been injured in attacks on foreign troops during patrols in armoured vehicles.

Campaigners have criticised what they say are confusing relocation schemes by NATO members, which they claim have allowed many translators to fall through the gaps and will struggle to evacuate all necessary staff before the western alliance's withdrawal.

"We are unsure that sufficient resource exists to deal with the number of applicants, especially given the security situation," Diggins said, calling for a review of applications by staff who had had their contracts with the military terminated and may have been denied relocation.

"We need to ensure that those who have been given sanctuary in UK are supported to integrate well and live their best lives possible.