First Afghan interpreters and families escaping Taliban land at Birmingham Airport

The first group of Afghan interpreters fleeing the Taliban arrived at Birmingham Airport this week.

The translators, who have worked with the British military in Afghanistan, are being flown to the UK under a Government scheme to protect them from reprisal attacks from the radical Islamic group.

More than 3,000 Afghans are expected to be settled in the UK in light of the planned withdrawal of British, US and NATO troops from the country over the next three months.

It has been reported more than a dozen Afghans employed by UK forces and their families landed at Birmingham Airport on June 22, though this has not been confirmed by the airport.

Birmingham City Council and the Home Office have declined to comment on whether families will be rehomed in the city.

The Ministry of Defence, who is leading on the project, has been contacted but has declined to comment on the flight to other media.

Dr Sara de Jong, senior lecturer in politics at the University of York, spoke on behalf of the Sulha Alliance – which campaigns for the rights of former Afghan interpreters who have served with the British military.

She said: “The flight went well, but has also been exhausting (especially for small kids) and the people are now in the required quarantine after travel.

“The Sulha Alliance is delighted to see that the group on the first flight has now been brought to safety in the UK. Many have been waiting for years to finally be relocated.

“However, the much greater number of former local staff is still in Afghanistan at the moment. While some have received positive decisions on their applications, others have not heard at all, and yet others have been rejected for spurious reasons.

“The Taliban are quickly gaining ground, currently taking over districts in the north of the country. The Government’s duty of care doesn’t end when interpreters arrive in the UK; many have psychological and physical injuries sustained in their work for British Armed forces, which they need support for.

“Their current visa status tends to leave them in a limbo with only limited access to education and employment.”

She said there had been no confirmation any of the interpreters will be resettled in the city, and that it had not previously been a participating local authority.

She also said there was no information on whether future flights will be coming into Birmingham again, or on the number of flights planned altogether.

Taliban insurgents are gaining control of territories across Afghanistan from the country’s government and have made death threats against those who have assisted the US and NATO operation.

A relocation scheme from the UK Government was opened up to translators in May and is expected to help more than 3,000 on top of 1,300 who have already been admitted.

It has been reported those who made the journey yesterday are expected to go into Covid quarantine for 14 days.

More than 350 coalition interpreters have been killed since 2014, it has been reported, while more have been injured in attacks.

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