Afghan interpreter begs PM Boris Johnson to evacuate family

Afghan interpreter 'facing death' after Taliban takeover, pleads with UK's Boris Johnson for help
3 min read
19 August, 2021
An Afghan man who interpreted for the British Army in Afghanistan fears for his life after the Taliban took over Kabul, and he is pleading with Boris to evacuate him and his family.
The man is pleading with the UK to help evacuate him and his family [BBC screengrab]

An Afghan man who interpreted for the British Army in Afghanistan fears for his life after the Taliban took over Kabul, and is pleading with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to evacuate him and his family.

The man, whose real name remains protected, told the BBC he had initially received permission to travel to the UK last week. Just one day later and the Taliban took over Kabul.

The man worked as an interpreter for the British Army for three years. With the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan, thousands who helped foreign troops are attempting to flee the country fearing reprisals from the insurgents.

Initially the man, referred to as "Ahmed", was rejected for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme in April and appealed against the decision. He later received an email to confirm his eligibility for the scheme.

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However, the day after he received the email, the Taliban captured Kabul, putting him in deadly danger, he says.

"Taliban are not trustable… if they find me, there will be no mercy," he said. "I have done a lot of patrols, missions, shoulder to shoulder with British armies, like a family, like a brother."

The Taliban insists there will be no reprisals against interpreters but Ahmed, like many other Afghans, do not believe the militants can be trusted.

"It's a major threat for me if I go out, they know me. There will be no mercy and I will face death.”

Ahmed is urging the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help him.

"I just want him to provide a pathway to safety for me and my family. I beg him," he told the publication.

While the UK government has pledged to accept up to 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next few years under a new settlement scheme, the fate of thousands of interpreters remains uncertain.

A former interpreter hit out at Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is set to discuss Afghanistan at the G7 today, for not making a phone call to help evacuate translators from the country.

An Afghan interpreter seen speaking about his fears for his family members back in Afghanistan [Getty]
British and British Afghans are demanding the government evacuate translators [Getty]

Raab was accused of "failing" interpreters after he was reportedly "unavailable" and on holiday in Crete. He could not make a call to the Afghan foreign secretary about offering help to interpreters.

"If he didn't make the call, I'm shocked. How could somebody do something like that in this chaotic situation?" a former translator and British citizen by the name of Rafi, told the PA news agency.

"The interpreters and their families could be killed at any time," he added.

"He is failing to provide safety and protection to families of those in Afghanistan who have served for the British government in the war against terror. If he was too busy during is holidays to help, shame on him."

The Foreign Office at the time said Raab had been "engaged on a range of other calls".