Ministers will personally lead race to save British Afghan interpreters

Ministers will personally lead the race to rescue Britain’s Afghan interpreters as ‘doubling the pace’ is ordered amid fierce criticism

  • Ministers will personally take charge of British Saving Afghan interpreters
  • They ordered a ‘double the pace’ with a review of cases after fierce criticism
  • As the US has begun airlifting interpreters as militants continue their march
  • Sir Keir Starmer urged government to renew ARAP and take US leadership

Ministers will personally take charge of Britain’s rescue program for Afghan interpreters in a desperate attempt to speed up the relocation process.

After fierce criticism, they have ordered a ‘doubling of the pace’ at which the scheme is being implemented, with a wide review of dismissed cases.

Some 1,500 officials now work here and in Afghanistan to assess claims by former British associates living under the Taliban’s death penalty.

It comes as the United States begins its airlift of interpreters and militants continue their relentless advance through the war-ravaged country.

A ‘mercy flight’ of 221 Afghans, including children and babies, landed in the US state of Virginia yesterday.

Ministers will personally lead the rescue program for Afghan interpreters in a desperate attempt to speed up the relocation process (file photo of British soldiers in Afghanistan)

Up to 50,000 former American workers and their families will follow as part of Operation Allies Refuge.

Today, the Daily Mail reveals the shocking story of Farid, a translator whose bid to move to Britain under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Program (ARAP) was turned down — even after he was shot by suspected Taliban gunmen.

Last night, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the government to renew ARAP and take charge of the US.

The US is willing to transfer interpreters and families whose applications are pending, while British interpreters generally have to wait in Afghanistan for their applications to be accepted. Only then are they allowed to travel to Great Britain.

However, in terms of numbers rescued, the UK is ahead of the US, with more than 2,000 Afghans who have already moved to Britain, with around 400 set to arrive this week. “We are light years ahead of the Americans,” said a senior British official.

But Sir Keir said: ‘The interpreters in Afghanistan have been extremely important to us and we owe them a moral duty to look after them. I would like our government to live up to the US commitment and the sooner we can do this the better.”

Last night, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) urged government to renew ARAP and take US leadership

Last night, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) urged government to renew ARAP and take US leadership

Since British forces and Western allies withdrew, the Taliban have expanded their territory and control at least half of the country. Experts fear that the central government could fall within six months.

In response, 40 former senior military officers warned the Prime Minister that Britain would face “dishonor” if British interpreters were murdered.

Hours later, sources indicated that Britain might be willing to bring interpreters ‘to specification’ to wait here while their cases are heard. But there is no official confirmation that this will be implemented.

The Daily Mail has highlighted the plight of translators with our award-winning Betrayal of the Brave campaign.

Yesterday Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, who served in Afghanistan, said: ‘We need the bureaucracy and the system to catch up. Some interpreters have had their service terminated for disciplinary reasons [preventing relocation]. But are cases worth a death sentence? Anyone found by the Taliban will be killed and their families too.”

Last night a Defense Ministry spokesman said: “No one’s life should be put at risk for supporting the British government in Afghanistan.

“Our Afghan relocation policy is one of the most generous in the world and has already supported more than 2,300 former Afghan employees and their families to start new lives in the UK, 1,000 of whom have arrived in the past few weeks alone.

“As we continue to significantly accelerate the pace of relocations, hundreds more will follow.”

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