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UK eyes giving visas to 600 Afghan interpreters

UK eyes giving visas to 600 Afghan interpreters

Britain is proposing to give around 600 Afghan interpreters who worked alongside its troops the right to settle in the U.K. in recognition of the risks to their personal safety.
The plans, released Wednesday, will allow interpreters who have worked on the front lines in Afghanistan for more than a year to relocate to Britain on a five-year visa. Those who do not meet the requirement will get a training and education package with the Afghan security forces and wages equivalent to their current salary, or be given 18 months' salary.
Britain, which contributes the second-largest number of troops to NATO's operation in Afghanistan after the U.S., is preparing to end its combat role there by the end of 2014.
"The prime minister has been very clear that we should not turn our backs on those who have trod the same path as our soldiers in Helmand, consistently putting their lives at risk to help our troops achieve their mission," a statement from Prime Minister David Cameron's office at Downing Street said, referring to the southern Helmand province, where many battles were fought.
"These proposals give them a choice: The opportunity to go on working in Afghanistan, learning new skills and to go on rebuilding their country, or to come and make a new start in Britain," it said.
The statement appeared to signal a change of heart by Cameron, who earlier this month told reporters he believed most Afghan interpreters should stay in their country to help rebuild it after years of conflict.
Some welcomed Britain's move, though others raised concerns that many interpreters who do not qualify for the plans may be left in danger.
Rosa Curling, a lawyer representing three Afghan interpreters who launched a court case on the issue, said limiting the offer to front-line staff would offer no protection to Afghan workers who are threatened because of the nature of their work.
Downing Street said Wednesday that officials are expected to finalize the proposals within days, but British media, quoting government sources, reported that the plans have already been approved.


Updated : 2021-06-14 21:06 GMT+08:00