United Kingdom

Just 99 hero translators are saved from the Taliban: Slammed as 'pathetic' by campaigners 

Fewer than 100 Afghan interpreters were rescued from Kabul by the RAF, campaigners said last night.

The Government has declined to say how many ex-translators who risked their lives beside UK troops were airlifted to safely in Operation Pitting.

But painstaking research by the Sulha Alliance, which campaigns for the interpreters and their resettlement, has confirmed only 99 of the men who stood shoulder to shoulder with the UK military were flown out with their families. Many others were left behind.

More than 50 former translators approved for relocation are in Kabul fearing Taliban retribution and desperate for news of how Britain will help them escape. Pictured, Former Afghan UK military translator Waheed with British Forces in Helmand

Major Aitken highlighted the lack of individual support for those stuck in Afghanistan, and the ‘turning off’ of the main contact email address between the translators and the MoD. Pictured, Former interpreter Mohammad

Major Ed Aitken, who served in Afghanistan and is a founding member of the alliance, said ministers had refused to provide transparency on numbers.

He added: ‘The people they told the British public that they were evacuating, for the most part, were left behind and we are now seeing them being hunted by the Taliban and abandoned by the UK Government.

‘The Government’s inability to provide the numbers of former interpreters that were evacuated means we can only conclude that they don’t know who they have evacuated. In summary, it’s an embarrassing mess of a situation.’

Major Aitken highlighted the lack of individual support for those stuck in Afghanistan, and the ‘turning off’ of the main contact email address between the translators and the MoD. 

He said the alliance was also tracking the cases of 88 former interpreters – many now British citizens – who became trapped after going to collect their wives and children.

Major General Charlie Herbert, a former British commander in Helmand who has worked alongside the alliance, said: ‘The number of hugely vulnerable Afghans who were eligible for evacuation but left behind, often without being called forward to the evacuation centre, is quite staggering.

‘Three weeks after the last evacuation flights, it’s scandalous and pathetic that no former interpreters or staff have been evacuated from a neighbouring country. 

'Despite all the promises from the Government, nothing tangible has actually been delivered.

‘This whole sorry episode is an utter betrayal of those who supported us in our campaign against the Taliban.

‘Everyone is tired now of hearing Whitehall departments blame one another without taking responsibility for their own part in the plan.’

More than 50 former translators approved for relocation are in Kabul fearing Taliban retribution and desperate for news of how Britain will help them escape.

Several have accused the UK of abandoning them with no direction or contact. 

They have spent the past month in hiding along with more than 100 ex-translators who had applied for sanctuary in the UK under the Afghan Relocations programme but were awaiting a decision when the Taliban walked unopposed into the Afghan capital.

A 33-year-old former interpreter, who was told he was to be evacuated with his wife and four children, spent several nights in a house near the airport but was not called forward.

Another father, 31-year-old Sayed, was first told he had been approved for relocation last October but said that he was never called forward. 

Father-of-four Hussain, 48, said he had appealed many times for help to reach the airport after being held at gunpoint at a Taliban checkpoint. 

He waited for three days only to be turned back.

Passengers preparing to board a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 aircraft at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan

The Daily Mail’s award-winning Betrayal of the Brave campaign has highlighted the cases of interpreters left behind despite – in many cases – being qualified for relocation months before Afghanistan fell.

Former translator Rafi Hottak, who was blown up on the front line and now campaigns for interpreters, said: ‘It is deeply worrying and shameful that those who risked their lives have been put to the back of the line at times.

‘Someone needs to tell us exactly what has happened and why.’

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said yesterday there was no figure specifically for the number of translators rescued during the RAF operation. 

She stressed that 5,000 Afghans had been rescued by the RAF flights. A further 8,000 British nationals were flown out.

Some translators have been forced to turn to people smugglers to escape Afghanistan, handing over thousands of pounds to be taken over the border.

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