We’re Finally Safe from the Taliban: UK Sanctuary for Translator Fired for Owning a Kindle


For former Afghan translator Waheed, the news that he will be approved to move to the UK is a ‘life-saving dream come true’.

“It lifts a shadow from our lives and means my family will finally be safe from the Taliban,” said the 29-year-old, who spent three years with military spies and frontline troops in Helmand province.

Like many other interpreters who risked their lives with British troops, he learned yesterday that the government is speeding up their business and broadening the criteria under which they can seek refuge in the UK.

Hundreds of Afghans who have worked for British forces are expected to relocate as Taliban insurgents ramp up attacks and the UK prepares to leave Afghanistan. It is estimated that about 3,000, including families, will be rescued.

Pictured: Former Afghan British military translator Waheed with British forces in Helmand

With changes to criteria announced yesterday by the Daily Mail, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has paved the way for the relocation of hundreds of interpreters whose contracts have been terminated for minor offences.

More than 1,000 – 35 per cent of translators employed by the British Armed Forces – were made redundant without the right to appeal and several hundred are now expected to be eligible for resettlement.

One of them is Waheed, a father of two who worked for the highly sensitive Electronic Warfare Unit and Brigade Reconnaissance Forces between 2010 and 2013, but his job was terminated after a Kindle e-reader was found among his belongings at the camp.

It was a rule that no electronic devices, including cell phones, could be taken into base areas without special permission.

Pictured: Waheed's wife and son at their home in Kabul

Pictured: Waheed’s wife and son at their home in Kabul

“This friendly change of policy corrects a grave injustice,” Waheed said. “I was given the Kindle by a British officer and had written permission for it, but their regiment left Afghanistan and when the new team arrived they found the Kindle, refused to accept my permission and I was fired.

“Since then, we’ve been living in the shadow of the Taliban, wondering if every knock on the door was insurgents coming at us. We felt terrified and abandoned – but now there is hope.’

Waheed’s case is one of the issues highlighted in this newspaper’s award-winning Betrayal of the Brave campaign, which helped bring about the major changes announced yesterday as part of a redrafted Afghan relocation and aid policy. (ARAP) to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and the impending departure of international troops.

In one of the key changes, Mr Wallace has indicated that those fired for minor offenses who would otherwise qualify to come to Britain by default under ARAP could be eligible for re-employment with ‘presumption of approval’ when there is are no other factors of concern.

Colonel Simon Diggins, a former military attaché at the British Embassy in Kabul and one of the founders of the Sulha Alliance, which helps translators, said: ‘We welcome the government’s announcement, but we still have our concerns.

“We need assurances that the teams present can meet the demand to clear the interpreters and their families before our final troops withdraw. We are also seeking clarity on the…government’s definition of minor offences.’

He added that officials should also directly contact those who may benefit from the policy change to inform them.

Many interpreters have disputed the reasons for their termination, with some being fired, for example for being late for work while roads were closed by Taliban checkpoints.

The Department of Defense maintains that all contract terminations were justified.

A former Afghan interpreter who fled the Taliban after receiving death threats in connection with his work for British troops has been stranded in limbo in a refugee camp in Greece, unable to move to Britain even though he is eligible.

Nabi, 35, who spent four years with British troops in Helmand province, has been told by email that he and his family are eligible to start a new life in the UK – but only if they be in Afghanistan and be able to travel from Kabul.

But he said he is unable to return to his homeland because he is on insurgents’ “death lists” and urged the government to show “compassion” and allow him to enter from Greece. to come.

Former translator Nabi in a refugee camp in Athens where he lives.  He's been told he's eligible to move to the UK but fears he'll have to return to Kabul to hear his case

Former translator Nabi in a refugee camp in Athens where he lives. He’s been told he’s eligible to move to the UK but fears he’ll have to return to Kabul to hear his case

Nabi arrived in Athens in 2018 after receiving death threats signed by a Taliban commander who told him, “You worked for the infidel troops — your punishment is death.” The warning came after two of his colleagues in Helmand were killed and he was injured in an ambush.

His wife and four children are in Afghanistan and Nabi said he left because of the danger he put them in as a result of his work for the UK.

“I ask the government, who say I deserve to locate, to give me permission to do so through the embassy in Athens and then my family to join me in the UK,” he said. “I’ll be in grave danger if I return and I’m a danger to them.”

Earlier this year, former interpreter Nesar and his wife Nazanin came to the UK from a Greek refugee camp after the embassy in Athens handled their case when it was highlighted by the Mail’s Betrayal of the Brave campaign.