Britain could have 'blood on its hands' over Afghan translators, Lord Dannatt warns

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Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, warned earlier this month of the tough time ahead in what could be a pivotal year in the fight against the insurgents  Photo: REUTERS
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Britain will have "blood on its hands" if Afghan interpreters are killed by the Taliban, the former head of the army has warned

Lord Dannatt said that the nation has a "debt of honour" and a "moral obligation" towards those who served alongside British forces.

It comes amid mounting controversy over the government's refusal to allow Afghan interpreters to return to Britain, including one who worked as a translator for David Cameron.

A total of 200 Afghan interpreters who worked for British forces and have applied for help after being threatened by Taliban militants.

British police working in Kabul have recommended that they take measures to protect themselves such as changing their cars or their phones. However, none of them have been granted asylum in Britain.

David Cameron during a visit to Afghanistan in 2013

Lord Dannatt told The Telegraph: "We have a moral obligation to look after them. If they feel they are not able to live their previous life they have earned the right to come and live in this country.

"I know that immigration is a real problem but the number we are talking about is so small that actually making a fuss about it is a real embarrassment. We have a debt of honour.

"If we are failing in our moral obligation and have a genuine concern that people are at threat, and that threat is carried out, then their blood is on our conscience and on our hands.

"The fear is that having been marked men or women who have worked with us they become targets for those who want to take revenge. We have a duty to stand by them.

The interpreters missed out on a one-off assistance scheme set up last year by the government for its Afghan employees, which includes an option to relocate to Britain.

The scheme only applied to those who had served on the front line in Helmand province for at least 12 months and were still working as of December 2012. Other have been forced to remain in Afghanistan.

Mr Cameron's interpreter, a 26-year-old known as Shaffy, has said that he feels "abandoned" after having put himself in danger to work for the Prime Minister.

While is application to move to the UK has been rejected, defence officials are reviewing his face and considering giving him funding to move homes within Afghanistan.

Penny Mordaunt, a defence minister, said that it is important that those employed by British forces in Afghanistan "continue to contribute positively to the future of their country".

She said: "Our policy towards interpreters enables our local employees to continue to contribute positively to the future of their country, rewards those who worked for us in the most challenging roles, and takes all reasonable steps to ensure that our former employees are safe from any danger caused by their employment with us.

"I have met many locally employed staff when visiting our forces. I have always been deeply impressed by their courage and their commitment to the future of Afghanistan."

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Source : telegraph[dot]co[dot]uk
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