Thousands raised for Afghan interpreters to relocate to UK
More than £15,000 ($20,800 US dollars) has been raised to help Afghans resettle in Britain by a UK fundraising campaign founded by an ex-solider who had served in Afghanistan.
The gofundme page was set up by Julian Perreira, who served with the UK armed forces in Afghanistan, and has collected £16,475 ($22,700 US dollars) in funds at the time of writing, far exceeding its £2,580 ($3,500 US dollars) target.
The public donations will be used to help Afghan interpreters, and other civilians, who worked with British forces to obtain the documentation needed for resettlement under the UK's Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
Perreira told The New Arab that the ARAP scheme is "not fit for purpose", as Afghan interpreters who had been granted relocation also face the "financial burden" documentation such as passports, IDs and birth certifications.
Donations go straight to the Afghan interpreters, and other local employed staff, to ensure they get the money needed for their documentation as quickly as possible, he said.
The cost of removing a family of four is around $600 US dollars, said Perreira, and passports are around $90 US dollars. However, he added, often Afghans are asked to pay more - around $200/$300 US dollars - so their documentation is delivered in days rather than weeks.
"Corruption in the country is widespread", he said, adding that "speed is of the essence" when it comes to securing the safe relocation of the "brave people" who worked with British forces.
If you want to make a donation to support the relocation of Afghan interpreters, @PerreiraJulian has set up great fundraiser to help former staff who can't afford it, pay for their passports and docs. https://t.co/1AtK4U8zwU— The Sulha Alliance (@SulhaNetwork) August 13, 2021
Perreira told The New Arab it was an "encouraging thing to see how the British public has responded" and that they wanted leaders to do "the right thing".
However, he said there has been "mistake after mistake" in relation to the handling of ARAP, referring to one incident in which an Afghan arrived in the UK safely only to be told more documentation was needed by the government.
"They are clearly unable to handle the volume of work," he said.
The UK's ARAP scheme has already come under fire from ex-soldiers and updated its terms and conditions over the last month.
Afghan interpreters who supported military operations as contractors are now eligible for relocation and those who were dismissed for "relatively minor administrative offences" can apply. However, a proportion of Afghans will continue to be rejected on security grounds.
Almost 1,400 local employed staff and their families have been relocated in past weeks and a further 500 families, around 2,500 people, will be relocated in future, said a UK government statement published on August 4.
The Taliban have made rapid advances in recent days, capturing Afghanistan’s second and third-largest cities and are quickly moving closer to Kabul.
In July, Boris Johnson announced the end of Britain's military mission in Afghanistan following a hasty and secretive exit of the last remaining troops 20 years after the post-9/11 invasion that started the "war on terror" and claimed the lives of 457 British soldiers.
"We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis to ensure that if conditions on the ground deteriorate we can change our processes accordingly," said the government statement, signed by UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel.