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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Afghan interpreters face deportation from UK

The translators served with British troops on the frontline in Helmand

Translators who served with British troops in Afghanistan say they face deportation unless they can pay £2,400 in fees. Updegraff via AP
Translators who served with British troops in Afghanistan say they face deportation unless they can pay £2,400 in fees. Updegraff via AP

Afghan interpreters, who risked their lives helping British troops in Helmand Province, face being deported from the UK, in a further scandal to hit Britain’s Home Office.

More than 150 translators were given sanctuary in Britain after serving on the frontline for over a year.

However, they said the Home Office had been unable to tell them whether they could stay after their five-year visas run out next year.

The interpreters will also have to pay £2,400 (Dh12,000) each to reapply for indefinite leave to remain, a cost which they say is too much.

In a letter sent to new home secretary Sajid Javid and defence secretary Gavin Williamson and seen by the Daily Mail, they said their future “hangs in the balance”.

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"We took great risk because we believed in the integrity of the British Army, only to be let down by politicians who see us a number and not as people,” the letter says.

"We implore you to end your shameful and indefensible policy."

Mr Williamson has asked the home office to let the translators, who fear being targeted by the Taliban if they return to Afghanistan, stay in the UK.

The Daily Mail cited the example of one interpreter Mohammad Hares Walizada who served with UK troops from 2009 to 2013 and is currently living in Manchester.

The paper said Mr Hares and his wife must pay nearly £2,400 each in fees as well as £900 for their daughter to continue living in the UK.

Mr Hares said: “If I can't afford the fees even if I can get a visa then I won't be able to apply and I will technically be illegal.

“Then I have two options either to go back to my country and risk our lives or find the money.”

The British government said on Wednesday that it wanted to reassure them they can expect to stay.

The translators case is a first test for Mr Javid, who was appointed home secretary on Monday following his predecessor Amber Rudd’s resignation over the Windrush scandal.

Upon his appointment, Mr Javid vowed to do everything he could to help the Windrush migrants, who have been threatened with deportation after being falsely labelled as illegal immigrants.

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