BE­TRAYAL OF THE BRAVE Vic­tory for the Mail on Afghan trans­la­tor visas

Daily Mail - - News - By Larisa Brown De­fence and Se­cu­rity Ed­i­tor

AFGHAN in­ter­preters who served along­side Bri­tish troops will no longer have to pay large fees to con­tinue liv­ing in the UK, in a vic­tory for the Daily Mail.

Around 1,100 Afghans – mostly trans­la­tors and their fam­i­lies – faced be­ing kicked out of Bri­tain from next year as their five-year visas were due to ex­pire and they could not af­ford £2,400 to ap­ply for in­def­i­nite leave to re­main.

But last night new Home Sec­re­tary Sa­jid Javid said the loyal in­ter­preters, all of whom served for more than a year on the front­line in Hel­mand Province, and their fam­i­lies could stay with­out pay­ing.

Writ­ing for the Mail in his first news­pa­per ar­ti­cle since be­ing pro­moted to Home Sec­re­tary on Mon­day, he said: ‘It is only right that we hon­our their ser­vice and en­sure they are able to con­tinue with the lives that they have built here.’

In an­other break­through, Mr Javid said he would re­view whether their wives and chil­dren should be al­lowed in.

Many of them had com­plained they had not been able to bring rel­a­tives across at the same time for prac­ti­cal rea­sons, only to be told it was now too late.

De­fence Sec­re­tary Gavin Wil­liamson also vowed to fight for the ‘ coura­geous’ trans­la­tors. ‘The Afghan in­ter­preters have served this coun­try with great loyalty and brav­ery by serv­ing shoul­der-to-shoul­der with our Armed Forces,’ he said.

‘I am also re­ally pleased the Home Of­fice have sup­ported me in mak­ing sure Bri­tain de­liv­ers for these coura­geous in­ter­preters who have al­ways de­liv­ered for us.’ The Mail’s Be­trayal of the Brave cam­paign, launched in 2015, has high­lighted count­less scan­dals in which Afghan in­ter­preters have been aban­doned.

The min­is­ters’ pledges raised hopes for other in­ter­preters who have not been al­lowed into Bri­tain be­cause they were not serv­ing on an ar­bi­trary date in 2012. Yes­ter­day it was re­vealed that sev­eral hun­dred Afghan in­ter­preters who were al­lowed into the UK un­der a re­lo­ca­tion scheme feared they would be booted out from next year.

They were given sanc­tu­ary af­ter risk­ing their lives for UK troops, but said they had been ‘left in limbo’ be­cause of rules forc­ing them to pay £2,389 to ap­ply to stay in Bri­tain in­def­i­nitely. The rules, which also ap­ply to mi­grants who il­le­gally crossed the Chan­nel to en­ter the UK, left the in­ter­preters with the prospect of hav­ing to re­turn to the war-rav­aged na­tion and be hunted by the Tal­iban.

Mo­ham­mad Hares, who served with UK troops for five years and leads the Sulha Net­work rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­preters, wel­comed Mr Javid’s pledge to waive the fees. ‘This a big achieve­ment and it’s se­cu­rity for us,’ he said. ‘The fear that I and oth­ers could be sent back to Afghanista­n is gone. The morale will lift be­cause of this, as will our trust in the sys­tem.’

The in­ter­preters wrote to both min­is­ters ear­lier this week urg­ing them to over­turn the ‘shame­ful’ pol­icy. The De­fence Sec­re­tary then urged the Home Of­fice to waive the fees. Lord Dan­natt, a for­mer head of the Army, joined the calls, say­ing: ‘These peo­ple are vi­tal to us and it is vi­tal we treat them prop­erly.’

The UK’s cur­rent re­lo­ca­tion pol­icy ex­cludes hun­dreds of in­ter­preters who worked with Bri­tish troops dur­ing some of the worst fight­ing in Hel­mand in the years be­fore and af­ter 2012.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.