Up to 600 Afghan interpreters who risked their lives to help British forces to get right to live in the UK

  • Interpreters will get visas for themselves and their ‘immediate dependents’
  • They will get free travel to the UK and accommodation for first three months
  • Those eligible will have had to serve for at least 12 months on the front line

By Tim Shipman, Deputy Political Editor

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Up to 600 Afghans who have risked their lives to act as interpreters for British troops and officials are to be handed the right to move to Britain.

Interpreters who have regularly served on the front line will get visas for themselves and their ‘immediate dependents’ to come to Britain for a period of five years.

Under a £40 million package being thrashed out in Whitehall, those who come to the UK they will get free travel to the UK and accommodation paid for their first three months.

An Afghan interpreter, his face masked for security purposes, pictured with Prince Harry in 2008 . Up to 600 Afghans who have worked as interpreters are to be given the right to move to Britain

Vital role: An Afghan interpreter, his face masked for security purposes, pictured with Prince Harry in 2008. Up to 600 Afghans who have worked as interpreters are to be given the right to move to Britain

The visas will be offered to around half of the 1,200 interpreters who are currently employed by the Armed Forces and the Foreign Office.

Those eligible will have had to serve for at least 12 months ‘outside the wire’ of security compounds in Helmand province where British troops have been fighting the Taliban.

 

Those who do not qualify for emigration to the UK will be offered the choice of 18 months’ pay as or money for training and education for up to five years if they want to learn a skill or take an IT course.

Interpreters who are no longer employed by Britain will not get a redundancy package but if they feel their lives are in danger they can report threats under the UK’s intimidation policy, which offers relocation to Britain in ‘extreme cases’.

The package has been drawn up in Downing Street following warnings that the Taliban could execute interpreters once Western combat forces leave the country by the end of next year.

Interpreter Mohammad Rafi Hottak was tortured by the Taliban for helping the British Army in Afghanistan

Interpreter Mohammad Rafi Hottak was tortured by the Taliban for helping the British Army in Afghanistan

A recent private survey of interpreters who have worked for Britain found that 94 per cent of respondents had received threats since they started working for the British.

Fewer than 3 per cent of interpreters said they will feel safe in Afghanistan when UK forces withdraw.

Twenty interpreters have died since 2001 - five were abducted and murdered by insurgents. The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all granted Afghan interpreters the right to asylum.

If all 600 interpreters decide to move to Britain it will cost taxpayers around £30 million.

The cost of redundancy payments and training will add another £10 million to the bill.

After the Iraq War all locally engaged staff were offered the chance to move to the UK. But No 10 officials say the package this time offers more incentives for them to remain in their own country.

Officials also make the point that many interpreters come from Northern Afghanistan rather than Helmand and will simply return home to communities who do not know that they have been working for Britain.

The plan has been approved by David Cameron and officials in the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence after meetings of the National Security Council. The details of the plans have now been passed to other ministers across Whitehall for approval.

A No10 source: ‘The Prime Minister has been very clear that we should not turn our backs on those who have trod the same path as our soldiers in Helmand, consistently putting their lives at risk to help our troops achieve their mission.

‘We should recognise the service given by those who have regularly put themselves in real danger while working for us.

‘These proposals give them a choice: the opportunity to go on working in Afghanistan, learning new skills and to go on rebuilding their country or to come and make a new start in Britain.’

The comments below have not been moderated.

This is an admission that the mission in Afghanistan has been a total failure. If there'd been any kind of success in 'liberating' these benighted people or in bringing them democracy why would interpreters have to be allowed to move to the UK for protection from the Taliban? Total disgrace & a waste of life! Tony BLiar hang your head in shame!

Click to rate     Rating   2

How wonderful. Just what we need here

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Oh good, we can employ them in parts of this country.

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No No No. They were happy to take the money. They should stay in their 'liberated country' and help to rebuild it.

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Why don`t they want to stay in their "LIBERATED" Country and help it to FLOURISH without the Taliban to ruin it.

Click to rate     Rating   5

NO NO NO NO NO NO we have enough homeless and enough young people who cannot afford a home. Then this tragedy in London happens. GET THE BORDERS CLOSED NOW

Click to rate     Rating   6

why couldnt we use our own interpreters

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WE ARE FULL

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So our soldiers die, our taxes pay for a war and then, after we (claim to) win we find a corner of Britain to house another 600. ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING!!! Let our old die of cold, young die of boredom and those in between die of starvation after all their benefits have been cut ... and give it to Afghan's - how sick can this country get?????

Click to rate     Rating   4

We should never have gone into Afghanistan ,and we certainly don't need any more Afghans over here, We can thank that egotistical war monger Blair for all the wasted lives of British soldiers and innocent Afghan citizens. and nobody has the Balls to hold him to account,

Click to rate     Rating   6

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