An Afghan interpreter who worked with British armed forces has won his struggle to remain in the UK. Mohammad Rafi Hottak, who suffered shrapnel wounds all over his body in an explosion while working with a British unit in Afghanistan five years ago, was refused asylum earlier this month by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). It is thought they had doubted that Mr. Hottak’s life would be at risk if he returned to Afghanistan. However, after much publicity and press coverage in which 26-year-old Mr. Hottak was said to have been “betrayed”, UKBA reversed their decision admitting that improvements needed to be made to the application process. They announced that they were now “working with the Ministry of Defence to improve the process for obtaining information about individuals who have worked with the armed forces to ensure this does not happen again.”
Mr. Hottak, who has received death threats from the Taliban for his perceived collaboration with British forces in his work as an interpreter, told The Times that he was “very happy” with the change of decision. He added, “They have put me through a lot of miserable times. However, finally they have reached the right decision.”
This news comes as New Zealand’s Defence Minister, Dr Jonathan Coleman, confirmed that the government had offered refuge to 23 interpreters currently working in Afghanistan. “The interpreters are playing a critical role in the operation of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamiyan enabling the PRT to interact effectively with the local population,” Dr Coleman said. “Offering assistance to current interpreters employed by the government reflects the view that New Zealand should demonstrate a duty of care to this group who have served New Zealand with the work of the Provincial Reconstruction Team.”
Sources include: AFP, BBC News, The New Zealand Herald, The Times
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