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British army troops walking up a ramp into a cargo plane to return to the UK from Afghanistan

Afghan community leader calls for quick action on interpreters resettlement

An Afghan community leader today said he hopes the Government can act quickly to bring Afghan interpreters to the UK in the wake of British military withdrawal.

Founder of the Feltham based Afghan and Central Asian Association Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi escaped the Taliban in 1999, crossing to the UK in a refrigerated truck with his family.

His comments come after 45 retired British military officers criticised the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy in a letter to Prime Minister on Wednesday, citing the unreasonable rejection of interpreters who do not pose a security risk.

Dr Nasimi said: “The time is very limited until the 11th of September when the US completely leave Afghanistan.

“We hope they will speed up the process of bringing those people who have been involved and engaged with the British army and working in NGOs.”

He referred to meetings with the Home Office who had assured him they were bringing interpreters as soon as possible, with ten families already in two English counties.

However, he stressed the need to follow up resettlement with continued support.

He said: “I think we need to make sure that those people who come to the UK have the support available by the social services, by the Home Office, as well as legal aid.

“The role of civil society and grass roots organisations will be great.”

He added that cuts to legal aid by the government posed a great problem to refugees.

President Biden’s April announcement the US would complete their withdrawal by 11 September emboldened the Taliban, who now claim to have control of 85% of the country.

Though the figure may be closer to 50%, the scale of the Taliban offensive has left Dr Nasimi fearing a civil war.

Their advance has increased the threat to interpreters who worked with the US and NATO forces during the 20-year occupation.

Just last week translator Sohail Pardis was beheaded by the Taliban outside Kabul.

The UK government acted quickly in June by accelerating the ARAP programme to make it easier for thousands of Afghans to resettle.

But critics argue many applications have been rejected for reasons not related to national security, for example mistaken identity, and a man who was dismissed for refusing latrine duty.

Dominic Raab told LBC yesterday that 2200 Afghans had already been settled under the scheme and that “of course we have got checks in place to make sure the offer we are making taken up by those who are eligible.”

This morning 200 interpreters were evacuated to the US, as part of a plan to relocate 2500 Afghans involved in the conflict.

Last Friday Canada also announced a resettlement programme for translators, embassy staff, and their families.

Featured image credit: Cpl Jamie Peters RLC via Defence Images on Flickr licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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