Afghan interpreter rejected due to resettlement fear death after British withdrawal

British soldiers in Afghanistan by helicopter

British and US troops will leave Afghanistan by September

AJ was afraid to leave his home in Kabul for months-he is afraid that the Taliban want to kill him and his family.

He is now in his early thirties and is one of the hundreds of Afghans who have worked with the British Army as interpreters and support staff, resulting in potential targets for extremists. They fear that the risk will only increase when foreign troops withdraw this year.

However, AJ (who cannot reveal his name for fear of being attacked) was repeatedly rejected for resettlement. UK Government Plans to Support Interpreters Something like himself and his family will resettle in the UK.

British officials say he was fired for smoking in his accommodation. Dismissed interpreters are not eligible for resettlement.

The AJ said he was not said to have been dismissed when he stopped working with the military, and he cannot believe the legitimacy of blocking the move to Britain.

“It can’t be serious enough to sacrifice my life,” he says. “I know I’m really in danger. I can’t even get a job. I don’t go to public places.”

“Dismissal for personnel management”

Approximately 1,010 interpreters-3 in 1- Dismissed by British troops for “disciplinary action” between 2001 and 2014 If you don’t have the right to appeal, government figures show.

British soldiers meet Afghanistan

Approximately 2,850 interpreters have worked with British troops in Afghanistan

However, retired Colonel Simon Diggins, formerly a British attaché in Kabul and now an Afghan interpreter activist, states that many of these dismissals are for trivial reasons.

“Some of the people who were fired did something shameful, but very many were fired because of very minor or administrative problems,” he told the BBC.

“There is a suspicion that the dismissal was used for personnel management. There is little evidence of why people were dismissed. What we are looking for is that all their cases have been reviewed.”

The Defense Department has stated that it strongly rejects the idea that the dismissal was used “administratively.”

“They know who I am”

AJ’s fears only expanded following last week’s announcement. US and British troops will leave Afghanistan by September 11th, At a time when the Taliban are gaining power nationwide.

AJ was hired by an Englishman when he was a teenager. Interpreting the enemy’s message to the Airborne Regiment and the Royal Marines, he participated in the Taliban’s established mission throughout Helmand in southern Afghanistan. The commander praised his “hard work and dedication” with a certificate of service.

AJ's selfie with a blurred face

“AJ” is afraid to leave Kabul’s home after being threatened with murder by the Taliban

When his regiment faced a Taliban attack in the southern town of Sangin, AJ says he was forced to flee without his personal belongings, including his ID. He believes the Taliban discovered them and learned of his work for the British.

As he stopped working in the military, AJ says his family, who is married to three children, received three letters from the Taliban containing threats of murder. “I know they know who I am,” he says. “And that makes me sick.”

Over the past six years, AJ has applied for resettlement several times, but each time it has been rejected.

After applying in December, he received an email from an official implementing a resettlement plan-seen by the BBC-he “possessed banned items” and “your smoking” “Accommodation that told him” not eligible for relocation “because he was dismissed for.”

When he applied again this month, he was rejected for the same reason.

Another dismissed interpreter, Ahmad, also rejected the application this month.

Ahmad in military uniform

“Ahmad” says he was fired for his late arrival and refused for relocation

He says he was fired for arriving late in 2013 to work three times. Since then, Ahmad says he has been threatened by the Taliban. Even Kabul’s neighbor told him that one day he would be killed as an “infidel.”

“I had a beard and changed my clothes to protect myself,” says Ahmad. “Being late should not sacrifice your life.”

“Thank you debt”

Since the announcement of resettlement in 2013, the Ministry of Defense has increased the number of qualified individuals, but has not yet included interpreters who have been dismissed “unless in exceptional circumstances.”

A Defense Ministry spokesman told the BBC, “We would like to express our gratitude to the interpreters who endangered working with British troops in Afghanistan.”

“No one’s life should be at stake, as the British government has helped bring peace and stability. A permanent team of experts based in Kabul is in the UK.”

To date, approximately 1,358 interpreters have been able to move to the United Kingdom from a total of 2,850 interpreters and other staff employed by the British Army.

One of them is Eddie Lees (not his real name), a former SAS interpreter who has participated in hundreds of missions, including parachute jumps and invasions of the Taliban prison. The experience he recorded in the book.. Of the 18 friends who worked with the American and British troops, only he and a friend currently in Britain survived.

All others were killed in action or later killed by the Taliban.

Idrees said he was afraid of interpreters engaged in military operations and remaining in Afghanistan after the international withdrawal.

“When Britain withdraws from Afghanistan, it will allow the Taliban to easily target them,” he said.

Even those covered by the scheme face an application process that can last up to 18 months, and delays can be life-threatening, according to Idries.

“The day the British leave is the day of the surge in violence. When they leave, the once safe areas, those states, are no longer safe, and these interpreters are in the Taliban. Forgotten”

‘Still waiting’

Colonel Diggins is calling for an “emergency plan” to relocate interpreters as soon as possible.

“What I’m really worried about is the scale and pace of getting people who deserve to come to this country, given how things are getting worse,” he said. “The paperwork takes 12-18 months. Not much time.”

The Defense Department says it is currently investigating the case of 84 former interpreters.

Among them is “Amir,” who served at the forefront of British troops for two years in Helmand, which was regularly attacked by the Taliban. Since resigning in 2011, he states he has faced threats to work with the UK. He could not see his family living in the Taliban-controlled area of ​​Rogar, just outside Kabul.

Amir, who was rejected twice, hopes that the third application will be successful. “I’m waiting for the good news,” he said.

However, he has been “feared” since hearing the news that foreign troops would withdraw. “It will cause more problems for us. I’m feeling a lot of risk lately. If you worked as an interpreter with an Englishman, you’re at home.”

The UK is not the only country working on plans to assist former Afghan interpreters.

The United States has a special visa program for Afghans who have worked with the military. According to the International Refugee Assistance Project, at least 89,000 people have resettled and 17,000 are still awaiting results through this plan.

The German defense minister said it was her country’s duty to protect Afghan staff when the German delegation left.

However, the future is uncertain for those who have not yet qualified for the system.

“I’m trying to get them to trust me and make sure my life is at stake,” AJ said when he heard that his fourth application was rejected. “It’s terrible. I’m still waiting.”

Additional Report by Charles Habiland of the BBC