Join our brand new verified AMN Telegram channel and get important news uncensored!

‘Show of respect’: UK campaign urges medals for Afghan interpreters

A British soldier marches toward his rally point during the field training portion of exercise Saber Strike 2014, at Adazi Training Area, Latvia, June 17, 2014. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Brett Miller, U.S. Army National Guard/Released)

British Army veterans have launched a campaign to gain medals for local Afghan interpreters who served with UK forces during the country’s almost two-decade war, The Times reported.

Armed forces policy means that the interpreters — many of whom were among the 11,600 Afghans who relocated to Britain following the Taliban takeover — are ineligible for medals or awards.

The campaign is led by Maj. James Bolter, a Royal Logistic Corps reservist who served in Afghanistan in 2011-12, recruiting and overseeing interpreters.

Bolter is urging the government to award a medal to Nazir Ayeen, who worked for seven years as an interpreter and once translated for King Charles during a troop inspection.

Ayeen said: “We worked for the UK government in the hope we could stabilize our country but also to be protected. I translated for King Charles and my only wish from him is to look after not only my own family but others in the same situation.”

He added: “Giving us a medal would be a show of respect and open doors for other organizations such as the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes to aid us.”

Bolter said: “It would be a very worthy recognition of what they went through, what they put their families through and what they did for their country.

“It would be heartening to see our former locally employed civilians being able to stand at their local Remembrance parades in 2023, alongside their British former colleagues, wearing their own hard-earned medals.”

Almost 5,000 interpreters once employed by Britain’s armed forces remain in limbo in Afghanistan, with the ARAP resettlement scheme struggling to process a backlog of requests.

Sara de Jong, co-founder of the Sulha Alliance, which represents interpreters, said that the government should expedite the ARAP process and bring more former interpreters to safety in Britain.

Awarding those already in the UK with medals would be a welcome boost to the community, she added.

“Symbolic recognition is very important for our community. We know from our comparative research that other countries, such as New Zealand and France, already award medals, and we have advocated for many years for the UK to follow their example,” de Jong said.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman said: “While decisions on medals are rightly independent, we are indebted to the contribution of those who served British forces in Afghanistan with professionalism and bravery.

“To date over 11,800 eligible Afghans, and their dependents, who worked with the UK armed forces under the ARAP scheme have been relocated to the UK. All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against all categories of eligibility, and have varying degrees of complexity which can affect how quickly they are processed.

“We currently estimate that 4,600 ARAP-eligible individuals, including their family members, are still to be relocated to the UK and we are working with partners in the region to bring out as many people as we can as quickly as possible.”


(c) 2022 the Arab News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.