Afghan interpreters to get British visas
Agence France-Presse in London
Around 600 Afghan interpreters who served with British forces fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan will be allowed to stay in Britain, the government revealed on Wednesday.
Prime Minister David Cameron initially opposed calls to allow interpreters and their families to settle in Britain, but backed down following a campaign.
He is now preparing to offer five-year visas to those who served on the front line for a year or more.
The interpreters say they face the threat of being attacked by the Taliban in their homeland because of their work with foreign forces.
“The PM has been very clear that we should not turn our backs on those who have trod the same path as our soldiers in Helmand, consistently putting their lives at risk to help our troops achieve their mission,” said a source from Cameron’s Downing Street office.
“We should recognise the service given by those who have regularly put themselves in real danger while working for us.
“These proposals give them a choice: the opportunity to go on working in Afghanistan, learning new skills and to go on rebuilding their country or to come and make a new start in Britain.”
Those who wish to remain in Afghanistan will receive an improved financial offer under the new plans.
They will be paid their salary for five years if they train or study or be paid for 18 months if not.
Cameron earlier said that Afghan interpreters should only be allowed to stay in Britain “in extremis”.
“I do think that when we think of all that we have spent and all the cost in money and human lives we have put into Afghanistan, we should do everything we can to encourage talented Afghans to stay in their country and contribute to it,” he added.
Britain is set to withdraw 3,800 of the country’s 9,000 troops from Afghanistan this year, as the Nato-led foreign force prepares to withdraw all combat troops by the end of next year.