Labour call for asylum for Afghan interpreters


by Sunny Hundal    
1:01 pm - December 21st 2012

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Yesterday, the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper wrote an article expanding on Labour’s policies on immigration, building on Ed Miliband’s speech last week.

Hidden away in the article was this startling line:

That is why I am calling on the Government to offer a settlement scheme for Afghan interpreters who helped British troops and now face threats from the Taliban as the troops pull out.

That sounds like a fairly significant announcement. Bizarrely, the media has mostly ignored the story.

So I called up Yvette Cooper’s office to ask for more details.

A spokesperson from the office confirmed to Liberal Conspiracy that Labour is calling on the government to offer asylum to Afghani interpreters who have worked with British Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

The policy obviously require consultation with British commanders on the ground as well as the interpreters themselves. But if they feared for their lives or those of their families, I was told, the interpreters should be welcomed in the UK.

But it isn’t clear how many would be eligible under the scheme. It is estimated that 600 interpreters have worked for Coalition forces, but there are no specific numbers for just British forces yet.

The last Labour government was pushed to implement a similar policy a few years ago for Iraqi interpreters who had helped British armed forces, following a campaign by bloggers and MPs.

But the Iraqi interpreters policy was too restrictive, the spokesperson acknowledged. It ended far too quickly and was more focused ‘on keeping people out than judging who needed our help’.

Yvette Cooper’s office stressed that they did not want to encourage a brain drain of well-educated Afghans to the UK, but if an interpreter feared for their lives then they should get asylum.

“They’ve been though the hardest citizenship test you can envisage.”

UPDATE: We’ve received a statement from Yvette Cooper

We owe a debt to those Afghans who have worked alongside our soldiers, some of whom have been injured in roadside bombs or gunfire. In some instances interpreters have faced threats from the Taliban against them and their families, and as we begin leaving Afghanistan we cannot leave behind people who face threats from the Taliban after risking their lives to help Britain.

I am calling on the Home Secretary to support a scheme that provides settlement to Afghans who have worked alongside our servicemen and women. Like the settlement programme agreed for Iraqi staff and their dependents under the last Government, it should ensure the Afghan staff are helped to settle and are not subject to the long waits and employment bans currently in place.

Examples of Afghan interpreters injured on the frontline, and then waiting two years in asylum queues, or even rejected, while worrying about Taliban threats to their families are very troubling. Our allies do not treat those who work for them in this way, and neither should Britain. These interpreters have already shown great commitment to British interests. If someone fears for their family’s safety as a result of working with British troops, and helping to fight for Britain’s long-term security, we should act.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


She had to spoil it with this though:

and helping to fight for Britain’s long-term security, we should act.

They’re still sticking with that disingenuous line then.
How many plots against Britain from there have been prevented? None is my guess. Where next – Mali?

“the government to offer asylum to Afghani interpreters who have worked with British Armed Forces in Afghanistan.”

Well of course. Why is there even any question of our not doing so?

What I do recall from the Iraqi one is that the Home Office (I think it was them) ended up offering exactly the same rights that the people had under the usual refugee/asylum laws. Which of course is a nonsense.

They worked for/with us, they’re at risk as a result, it’s our duty to sort it out.

BTW, I don’t think last time around it was because of Labour: and I don’t think this time around any foot dragging will be because of the Tories. It’s the permanent civil service at fault here.

3. Chaise Guevara

@ 1 damon

Amazing how so many people confuse “security” with “interests”, ain’t it?

And thus, in effect admitting that the war in Afghanistan is lost—else there would be no need for an asylum scheme.

If these translators are in genuine need of asylum because they helped UK forces, then the UK has a debt of honour to them. However, for practical purposes, the UK is full*, and we need to look at resettling them in other countries – such as Canada or the USA, where there is much more space.

* and don’t forget that we have many thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian economic migrants due in 2014 and attracted by our overly generous benefits system:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2252675/Were-way-Britain-In-year-29-million-Romanians-Bulgarians-right-settle-Britain-claim-benefits-And-gipsy-community-hardly-wait-here.html

@5. TONE

“attracted by our overly generous benefits system”

Please stop repeating this myth. It has been demonstrated time and time again that emigrants to this country are unaware of the benefits system. In any case, they are ungenerous by the standards of other European countries, which attract far fewer. They come here because Britain is perceived as a country where jobs are easy to find, and also because many foreign nationals have already learned English, thus making the process easier.

@ 5 TONE

…and we need to look at resettling them in other countries – such as Canada or the USA, where there is much more space.

Really? I wasn’t aware that the UK government was able to resettle people in Canada and the US. Why wasn’t I told that British North America has been reestablished?

MA @ 6:

“It has been demonstrated time and time again that emigrants to this country are unaware of the benefits system”

Have you got a reliable source for that claim? And are immigrants going to admit readily to researchers that the benefits system was a draw?

“In any case, they are ungenerous by the standards of other European countries…”

That’s false, in at least one important respect. In the UK, EU immigrants can claim unemployment benefits without having worked. This is not the case in many other EU countries — eg Germany, Denmark.

ijguytdkog @ 7:

“I wasn’t aware that the UK government was able to resettle people in Canada and the US”

It isn’t, but it can at least ask its NATO allies in Afghanistan to assist.

If these translators are in genuine need of asylum because they helped UK forces, then the UK has a debt of honour to them. However, for practical purposes, the UK is full*, and we need to look at resettling them in other countries – such as Canada or the USA, where there is much more space.

I wasn’t aware they were still colonies.

Besides which there’s simply no comparison eith economic migrants from other European countries. We – by which I mean the last government – are directly responsible for bombing the shit out of their country; the least we can do is protect those who were made complicit with our invasion.

Why are some posters obsessed with immigration ?

PD @ 10:

Is that just a rhetorical question? Or do you have some scintillating insight you wish to share?

Immigration is an important issue, and, for reasons I don’t fully understand, the left is largely determined to avoid acknowledging the disbenefits and disadvantages of immigration.

I have been worked for the British troops in Helmand camp Bastian,Garmsir DC and Sangin .
iam worrying now case iam under Taliban thread because of my working as interpreter/translator for British Army .

So after i got some feedback from your side i may provide you further details.

Regards
Haroon

If the UK Government dont pay attention to its Afghan interpreters which they serve for british army be cause of lack of space in the UK .
Why they dont ask the other countries like canada,usa,australia to provide the Afghan interpreters with Special Immegrant Visas similar to American!!!

i hope they do some thing for Afghan interpreters

Haroon @ 12:

Given your standard of written English, I’m not convinced that you would have been much use to anyone as a translator. If you are genuine, I thank you for your service to British forces; but I have to inform you that the UK is full, and we do not need or want what are in effect economic migrants. If you need asylum, please go to India, and claim resettlement costs from the UK government.

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 TONE

“I have to inform you that the UK is full”

I have to inform you that cats are a species of frog. Gosh, pretending it’s true doesn’t make it so!

Incidentally, while your attack on Haroon for speaking a second language imperfectly is certainly giving you the moral high-ground and making you a paragon to which the rest of us can aspire, did it occur to you that the military isn’t exactly trying to translate Shakespeare? I understood what he/she said, so job done. Oh, and Haroon didn’t say anything about wanting asylum, so maybe the problem here is reading skills?

(I’d reply to you @11 as well, but it’s just more of your OMG TEH LEFT IZ EVULZZZ!! crap. If you grow up enough to discuss the issue honestly, let me know.)

@ TONE

way way tone no need to bee so mean mate,
and attack on Haron.
( spelling mistack is no mastake,,,”Shakspear said”,,,).
And i sorry for u it’s not case of being geneuin.

CG @ 15:

Your reply is quite pathetic: abuse, not argument. Do you deny that the UK is in practical terms full? How many more to you think we can pack into this island? Do we really need any more immigrants from backward agrarian countries with a poor command English? And, as for the military, translators need to have a sufficiently good command of English to convey nuance in (say) negotiations with tribesmen…and, on the evidence available, Harroon doesn’t have that capability.

Also, if you’ve read my other posts on other threads, you’d know that I’m not opposed to immigration. I do think, however, that both the advantages and disadvantages have to be fully recognised. The right shies away from the advanatages; the left finds it hard to admit that there are any disadvantages.

Any way what aver it is the importent issue is to make some planing for the interpreters.

Same like all other countries who got proccess for Afghan interpreter if not it gona be a big shame for uk.

And to know honestly it is a responsibalaty of uk to take it serious.
cuz if USA, Canada, Australia, Germany
New Zland and other coutries can do so why not UK all are same and their should be equal ride and rule for every one as a humen ride.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Labour call on Tories to give asylum to Afghan interpreters http://t.co/JBdzlHVF

  2. Jason Brickley

    Labour call on Tories to give asylum to Afghan interpreters http://t.co/xeuVGsQy

  3. Sunny Hundal

    EXCLUSIVE: more on Labour's call for Afghan interpreters who have helped British forces to get asylum in the UK http://t.co/pRfIuLTF

  4. LadyRoisin

    EXCLUSIVE: more on Labour's call for Afghan interpreters who have helped British forces to get asylum in the UK http://t.co/pRfIuLTF

  5. Sunny Hundal

    An est. 600 Afghans have helped Coalition forces in Afghanistan. Labour wants some of them to get asylum in UK http://t.co/pRfIuLTF

  6. Sunny Hundal

    Labour staffer admits earlier policy on asylum for Iraqi interpreters (remember that lefty bloggers?) too restrictive http://t.co/pRfIuLTF

  7. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Labour call on Tories to give asylum to Afghan interpreters http://t.co/dDjjEfKu

  8. thedharmablues

    Labour call on Tories to give asylum to Afghan interpreters | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/H2IlFLq3 via @libcon

  9. Noxi

    RT @libcon: Labour call on Tories to give asylum to Afghan interpreters http://t.co/CQ2oxw4J

  10. 50ShadesOfBeige

    Labour call on Tories to give asylum to Afghan interpreters | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/vaDI29iI via @libcon

  11. Sunny Hundal

    Updated: statement from @YvetteCooperMP on Labour call to offer asylum to Afghan interpreters to British forces http://t.co/pRfIuLTF

  12. Lynn Buckley

    Updated: statement from @YvetteCooperMP on Labour call to offer asylum to Afghan interpreters to British forces http://t.co/pRfIuLTF

  13. saramo

    Labour call on Tories to give asylum to Afghan interpreters http://t.co/JBdzlHVF





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