LONDON: Proposals by the UK government to toughen its stance on migrants, a former interpreter has warned, will endanger the lives of Afghans who worked with the British Army.
Rafi Hottak, 36, who was injured in an explosion while assisting British soldiers fighting the Taliban in Helmand province, told the Metro newspaper that many of his former colleagues would suffer as a result of new laws making crossing the English Channel by small boat illegal.
The proposals, announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, would deprive cross-channel migrants of their right to seek asylum in the UK and subject them to deportation.
Hottak, who fled to the UK in 2011 after receiving threats from the Taliban, claims that many others like him are still in Afghanistan hiding from the group, which will take power after the US-led coalition forces leave in August 2021.
“Every day, we lose precious lives, and the majority of them are people who have served with NATO forces in Afghanistan,” Hottak said.
“If existing schemes do not include them, they are forced to flee the country and seek asylum.
“Now, if asylum routes are closed, it means the UK government is depriving them of a basic human right and telling them, ‘I will not save your life even if you have served in NATO forces, and I would rather you are killed by the terrorist Taliban.'”
Since the Taliban retook power, the UK has welcomed over 21,000 Afghans through two schemes. However, at least 4,300 people who have permission to travel to the UK remain in Afghanistan.
According to Ministry of Defence figures, over 71,000 Afghan asylum applications in the United Kingdom have not been processed.