While the situation for former Afghan interpreters is still a grey one, today there is some cause for celebration. The United Kingdom’s Home Office will begin to review its asylum policy regarding former Afghan interpreters. The impetus was evidence brought to light during a recent asylum case.
Here on the blog we’ve talked several times about the unfolding situation for former Afghan interpreters and the troubles they’ve had trying to remain in the United States, but today our focus is on our UK neighbors.
A former military interpreter who assisted UK forces for seven years and received serious threats from the Taliban is finally being allowed to stay in the UK. After arriving in December 2014 and claiming asylum, the UK tried to deport him in the spring of 2015, but legal action delayed it.
The Home Office has said it is generally safe to send former interpreters back to Kabul, Afghanistan. However, many disagree, including some military personnel, MPs and yours truly. 2015 was a particularly bloody year for civilian deaths after the withdrawal of most allied forces in 2014.
Many former Afghan interpreters who worked with UK, American and other allied forces in Afghanistan are in grave danger. They are high-profile targets for the Taliban, who consider them to be collaborators and traitors. Some of them have been beheaded, amputated, beaten or suffered other crimes.
In the recent asylum case, new evidence shed light on these dangers, including statements by Red T. This has prompted the UK’s Home Office to begin reviewing their asylum policy on former Afghan interpreters. Hopefully they will better recognize the dangers they face in Afghanistan! I know we will all be waiting for an improved decision.
To find out more about the risks translators and interpreters face in conflict zones, and how you can help, go to http://red-t.org/. Red T is a nonprofit organization that advocates for at-risk linguists worldwide.