Afghan interpreters living in Britain have appealed to be allowed to join the military or police instead of ‘languishing in unskilled jobs’.
The 182 translators have written to ministers desperate to do more after having ‘proven our loyalty to this nation’ by serving alongside British troops.
Their move puts Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel under pressure to agree as both services face a staffing crisis.
Afghan interpreters living in Britain have appealed to be allowed to join the military or police instead of ‘languishing in unskilled jobs’. An Afghan interpreter is pictured speaking with a civilian when out with the British Army, above [File photo]
Under current rules, the interpreters cannot join up unless they have become British citizens, which takes five years.
They are also unable to be police recruits unless they have indefinite leave to remain, which can take years from their arrival.
The letter was written by Mohammed Hares, chairman of the Sulha Network, which helps interpreters,
‘We want to use our skills rather than languish in unskilled jobs,’ it said.
The Army is supposed to have 82,000 troops by 2020 but latest figures show there are 74,440 fully trained personnel. Virtually every regiment, infantry battalion, unit and corps is understrength [File photo]
‘We want to make a brighter future for ourselves. We have served alongside British forces in Helmand for eight years and believe we have proven our loyalty to this nation. The British forces would benefit hugely from our experience and our cultural and language skills.
‘We saw first hand the respect the British Armed Forces had for us and our fellow countrymen and the rule of law they brought with them to Helmand Province. We want to be part of this professional family again.’
Black Paras win racist graffiti claim
Two black Paratroopers were subjected to ‘highly offensive’ racial harassment, an employment judge ruled yesterday.
Lance Corporal Nkululeko Zulu and Private Hani Gue had their photos defaced with racial abuse, swastikas and a Hitler moustache.
The words ‘**** off’ and ‘n*****s’ had also been written on the photographs, which were on the doors to their rooms.
The Ministry of Defence is now facing a payout. Judge Richard Baty said the abuse was ‘unquestionably related to race’ though the ‘perpetrator is still unknown’.
He said it was done ‘with the purpose of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment’.
The graffiti on the photographs at the barracks in Colchester came to light in January last year.
Some other complaints made by the pair were dismissed as ‘out of time’, while their remaining complaints failed.
Mr Gue, who described himself a black African of Ugandan nationality, joined the Army in October 2012 and formally asked to leave in January 2018. Mr Zulu, who described himself as a black South African, enlisted in 2008 and applied to leave almost ten years later.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘Any allegations of inappropriate behaviour are taken extremely seriously and investigated thoroughly.’
The interpreters said they are also willing to be ambassadors and advocates for the Army within their communities.
The letter also noted the rules for the Armed Forces have been waived for Nepalese Gurkhas and Commonwealth citizens.
‘We simply ask for the same waivers as it will take most of us up to five years to gain citizenship status,’ they said.
The Army is supposed to have 82,000 troops by 2020 but latest figures show there are 74,440 fully trained personnel.
Virtually every regiment, infantry battalion, unit and corps is understrength. The Navy and RAF are also below target.
Ed Aitken, who has served as a captain in the Army and now campaigns for the interpreters, said: ‘It is a sad state of affairs when our police and Armed Forces are so desperate to recruit from our BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] communities.
‘Yet these men, who have expressed a desire to serve this country again, are prevented by an inflexible policy despite the service and sacrifice they have already given us.’
Jamie Stone, Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: ‘We are lucky to have friends who believe in British values and want to help us defend our country. We are mugs to make it difficult for them.’
The letter also calls on ministers to overhaul a relocation policy which has failed to offer sanctuary to interpreters in Britain. Last month the Daily Mail revealed that just two had qualified despite promises that the figure would be 50.
A Government spokesman said: ‘We are extremely grateful to the Afghan interpreters and committed to ensuring those who are eligible for relocation are offered the opportunity.
‘The eligibility criteria for Gurkhas and personnel from the Commonwealth reflects our long-held historic links with those countries.’
The letter says: ‘We saw first hand the respect the British Armed Forces had for us and our fellow countrymen and the rule of law they brought with them to Helmand Province (above). We want to be part of this professional family again'