Afghani interpreters still left to their fate

Afghani interpreters still left to their fate

Whilst the news media continue to focus on the plight of migrants in Kos and in Calais, they seem curiously reluctant to reveal the fate of people to whom Britain does owe a debt of gratitude. These people are foreign, they work in the war-torn Middle East, and they have served both US and British interests in that conflict zone. Their fate goes largely unreported. In a recent blog, we told the story of these brave and talented individuals (see our blog “John Oliver on “Translators: The plight of Afghani interpreters”)

To its credit, the Daily Mail helpfully updates us (Daily Mail 17 August 2015). Their reporter, David Williams, reported from Kabul that an interpreter, known to UK soldiers as Popal, had been murdered by the Taliban as he tried to flee the conflict-ridden country. Williams goes on to report that anyone found to have worked for British forces is likely to be hunted down and murdered.

The interpreters seem to have been abandoned to their fate by the British government, which, ironically, seems powerless to act as hundreds of (mainly economic) migrants flee to our shores. Why has this happened? Apparently, according to the Mail, British investigators were unconvinced by evidence that the lives of these interpreters were at risk. However, Popal had already claimed, prior to his murder, that he had received written and telephone death threats. One of his friends recalls: “if he stayed, he knew he would be hunted down. If he went, he would at least have a chance of an honest life not wondering who is behind him all the time. It is disgusting the British let him down after he risked his life to help them, and to save their lives, now he has lost his own.’

Popal used people traffickers in a last desperate attempt to flee the country. It cost him £6,500 and his life.

Did the investigators look into this? Or were they under government instructions to ignore the plight of these brave men?

The article relates the stories of other interpreters who have pleaded with the British government for help in escaping to the UK to start a new life. Are these stories true? Exaggerated? Whatever the case, surely the mainstream media, including the BBC, should be delving into the facts of the matter.

At the very least the government should be lending a sympathetic ear or are they afraid that yet another story about “undeserving migrants” will not sit well with the current anti-immigrant mood of the British public?

By contrast, the presence in the UK of these skilled, qualified and educated interpreters would be a welcome contrast to the migrants whose only hope of work in the UK seems to be in the taxi companies and fast food outlets that proliferate uncontrolled in the black economy.

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