MPs slam 'utter failure' of Ministry of Defence scheme to help Afghan interpreters
A scheme to support Afghan civilians who worked as interpreters for British Forces in Afghanistan has been branded an “utter failure” by MPs.
The criticism of the Intimidation Scheme came in a defence select committee report, which claimed the government had “dismally failed” to protect interpreters, who risked their lives supporting British forces in Afghanistan and were now at risk from the Taliban and Islamic State.
The report, entitled ‘Lost in Translation? Afghan Interpreters and Other Locally Employed Civilians’, found that no Afghan interpreters had been brought to safety in Britain through the Intimidation Scheme.
Instead, the report claims, it went to “considerable lengths” to prevent relocation to the UK.
“There is a broad consensus that the UK owes them a great debt of gratitude,” the report says.
“The Government must abandon its policy of leaving former interpreters and other loyal personnel dangerously exposed.”
The report also referenced another programme, known as the Redundancy Scheme, which had allowed 1,150 people settlement in the UK. The scheme was open to Afghan civilians working in frontline roles for at least 12 months.
The report noted: “It is impossible to reconcile the generosity of the Redundancy Scheme with the utter failure of the Intimidation Scheme to relocate even a single LEC to the United Kingdom.
“This incompatibility of outcomes leads us to question whether the Afghan Government … is simply unwilling to admit that the country is too dangerous to guarantee the safety of former interpreters.”
During the 13-year combat mission which ended in 2014, 7,000 Afghan civilians were employed by British forces, with around half of those working as interpreters.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “We recognise the vital role interpreters and local staff play and are the only nation with a permanent expert team in Kabul to investigate claims.
“We provide tailored security advice and support to individuals.”