Politics Explained

The rescue of the Afghan interpreters begs a few uncomfortable questions

Those whose stories are well known to the media and government are treated with respect and compassion; those who arrive in the backs of lorries or in little boats are viewed with suspicion, writes Sean O’Grady

Thursday 05 August 2021 13:50
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<p>A camp for internally displaced families in Dand district of Kandahar province. It seems that some Afghan refugees are more equal than others</p>

A camp for internally displaced families in Dand district of Kandahar province. It seems that some Afghan refugees are more equal than others

In an almost unanimous show of mutual support and concern of the fate of the Afghan interpreters, fixers and drivers who risked their lives to help, Britain’s media has united to demand that these refugees should be offered immediate asylum. It is rare indeed to find all these organisations on the same side in any public debate but there they all are, lending their names and weight to what is effectively a petition to the prime minister and the foreign secretary to do the right thing.

In reality, the British government has little choice. It has already made arrangements for most of those who served the military to try to start a new life for themselves in Britain, where, regrettably, they may not always enjoy a warm welcome. Exceptions and anomalies seem to arise in cases where the Afghan involved left service under a cloud for some reason, but given the general policy of the Taliban, which is to behead first and ask questions after, it would seem the humanitarian thing to give them refuge as well.

Thus, with sentiment, the military, Tory MPs and the press behind them, these particular, exceptional refugees would appear to be the lucky ones, at least in the sense that they and their loved ones can get to the UK without further risk to their lives.

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