Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Interpreter Deaths Were 'As Tragic As Losing A Soldier'

The first commander of a British task force in Helmand says excluding Afghan civilians from relocating to the UK is like a "death sentence".

Excluding Afghan staff who worked alongside the British military in the country from relocating to the UK is "effectively handing out a potential death sentence", a former senior British officer in Afghanistan has warned.

It comes as the Taliban now control almost two thirds of Afghan territory, according to the European Union, and continue to advance from rural districts into provincial capitals.

Now, Afghans who worked with British forces in the country now fear the Taliban will take revenge.

The British Goverment has introduced the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) to help former staff relocate to the UK.

However, retired Colonel Stuart Tootal, the first commander of a British task force in Helmand Province, told Forces News the Government "need to do more".

Watch: Will an evacuation plan be needed for Afghan interpreters?

"There are far too many gaps in that policy, and far too many interpreters are being excluded from that programme, because they [are] alleged to have committed misdemeanors when they were dismissed from service," Col Tootal said.

He added "time is an issue here, not just the process" and that "as the Taliban begins to make more gains… these people are running out of time".

"The [Ministry of Defence] really do need to expedite this process because it would be an absolute disgrace if any of our interpreters who served with the British Army, took the risk in doing so, were subsequently murdered by the Taliban just because we weren't fast enough," he said.

"These people risked their lives, along with British soldiers, serving in Afghanistan, so we need to do more.

"They were part of the team.... their loss was deemed to be just as tragic as the loss of one of our soldiers, becaus they were part of the team," he added.