Afghan interpreters announcement - our reaction - Refugee Council
May 22, 2013

Afghan interpreters announcement – our reaction

The news that many interpreters working with the UK forces in Afghanistan are to be allowed to come to this country has been greeted almost overwhelmingly positively by commentators across the political and social spectrum.

The government announcement was revealed by newspapers and broadcast media this morning. The policy would mean that about half of those Afghans who have interpreted with the armed forces will be eligible to settle here, initially for five years as is standard with those granted refugee status in the UK.

The twitter hashtag #Afghaninterpreters revealed the wide range of those celebrating the good news, from the British Forces news feed to the Institute of Translating and Interpreting.

Some have welcomed with caution, remarking that the eligibility criteria are too tough to protect all those individuals who face retribution for their role in helping British forces. The Guardian reports on those particularly pointing to the length of service eligibility criterion as likely to leave many interpreters forced to stay in Afghanistan in highly dangerous situations.

Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said

We welcome this decision by the UK government which recognises that for many people, including those Afghans who’ve been working with British Forces and are now at high risk of violence and persecution, the country is a potentially unsafe place. Given this level of instability and danger, we urge the Government to rethink its practice of returning young people, many barely out of childhood, to the situation that exists in Afghanistan right now.”