Refugee Action Calls On Government to Extend Asylum To All Afghan Interpreters

Last updated May 28, 2013Press release

Refugee Action is today warning that the Government’s recent decision to offer a settlement package to some Afghan interpreters risks excluding many of those who served with British troops in Afghanistan.

In a joint letter published in today’s Times, signatories including David Davis MP, Major-General Timothy Cross, and Refugee Action Chief Executive Dave Garrett called for the Government to extend the protection measures to all interpreters who have worked with British forces in Afghanistan.

Dave Garrett, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, explains:

“Whilst we welcome the UK Government’s decision to offer the Afghan interpreters the right to resettle, the current deal falls short of granting protection and safety for all these brave individuals who have worked with British forces during the twelve year conflict.

“This means that hundreds of interpreters who stopped working before the start of this year are not eligible for resettlement in the UK and continue to live in fear of execution by the Taliban. We urge the UK Government to extend its protection measures to all Afghan interpreters who worked with British forces on the frontline in Afghanistan.”

Rafi’s Story

Twenty six year old Rafi is an Afghan interpreter who was granted refugee status in the UK on appeal after his initial claim for asylum was rejected by the UK Border Agency.

Read Rafi’s story about working on the frontline with the British forces and his experience of claiming asylum in the UK.

Open Letter as Published in The Times

Sir, We welcome the decision to grant some Afghan interpreters the right to resettle in the UK. The principle was established in Iraq, and there is no reason to treat our brave Afghan interpreters differently.

However, the proposed relocation package falls short of guaranteeing protection and safety for many brave individuals. Specifically, the asylum offer may only apply to those working on or after January 1, 2013; excluding hundreds who risked their lives alongside UK troops in this decade-long war.

Death threats forced many interpreters to stop working for the British before 2013, and many are still in hiding. Under such a deal, Abdul — who courageously raised the alarm about the hundreds of men at risk and whom 82,000 people have backed — may not be offered sanctuary in the UK as he stopped working with the British Army in June last year.

It would be an affront to the proud tradition of this country as signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees to refuse protection and safety to those who put their lives on the line to serve with our forces. We urge the Government to extend the protection measures and offer a safe haven to all of our translators in Afghanistan, and not abandon the hundreds who, stranded by this deal, will be left to live in fear of execution by the Taleban.

David Davis, MP

Stephen McPartland, MP

Baroness Berridge

Major-General Timothy Cross

Dave Garratt, Refugee Action

Alex Wilks, Avaaz

Sunder Katwala, British Future

Media Enquires

Please contact the Refugee Action press office.