Afghan interpreter enlists Lochaber MP’s help

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A former Afghan interpreter for the British Army who fled the clutches of the Taliban with his immediate family and now lives in local MP Ian Blackford’s Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency, believes the lives of other family members in hiding in the war-torn country are at serious risk.

The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, is one of a number of asylum seekers resettled in Mr Blackford’s constituency. He believes his family in Afghanistan are now at enormous risk as a result of his former role.

He told the SNP Westminster Leader: ‘Our family members are hidden and struggling to survive. There is no one to look after them. My father-in-law is an elderly and ill man. He needs proper treatment but he is hidden.

‘The others are women who are banned by the Taliban from going out. No jobs, no food for them…the Taliban are going door to door searching for people who worked with the former Afghan government or western countries.

‘I believe my working background as an interpreter causes them a big and serious threat to their life.’

Mr Blackford has demanded the UK Government acts immediately to introduce its promised repatriation scheme for Afghan citizens who are facing persecution at the hands of the Taliban.

The lack of support for vulnerable Afghans has also been raised by an international consultant who has been involved with women’s groups in Afghanistan since 2002.

A representative of NGO Medica Afghanistan advised Mr Blackford, in relation to a separate case, of the ‘terror’ of citizens now living under Taliban rule, stating: ‘No one has been able to give any concrete help or guidance…there is no transparency or information even to understand what people are to do or how to apply [to be
evacuated].’

However, Mr Blackford says when he attempted to contact the Home Office to raise these concerns he was met with a stock response stating that MPs should check for the latest information at an online government website.

The furious MP said: ‘It appears the repatriation scheme for Afghan citizens has still not opened. This is not good enough and breaks promises made to Parliament in August.

‘At that time, I expressed serious concerns about the manner of departure from Afghanistan, lack of support for the Afghan government, and the imminent humanitarian crisis.

‘The absence of a proper strategy for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan was a serious failure of leadership and one of the biggest foreign policy disasters of modern times.

‘I have written to the minister pointing out that the UK – along with our international partners – has a moral duty to properly discharge its obligations to all those Afghan citizens who worked with UK forces, ensure safe routes for refugee relocation and resettlement, and ensure adequate funding arrangements for local authorities.

‘I have demanded that the Tory government stops dragging its heels over this urgent
matter.’