Manchester based Human Rights Organisation
Press Release – For immediate release
Tuesday, September 20th 2016
AFGHAN INTERPRETERS FOR THE BRITISH ARMY FLED AFTER THREATS FROM THE TALIBAN - AND ARE NOW SEEKING SAFETY IN THE UK
- RAPAR working with leading lawyers to assist the two men who have spent months trapped in the Calais “Jungle” http://www.duncanlewis.co.uk/news/Calais_Update_Duncan_Lewis_continues_its_work_on_behalf_of_Afghan_Interpreters_(7_September_2016).html#sthash.4LP55zx5.tw66QDZa.dpbs
- New petition calls for a halt to attempts to close the Camp saying that dismantling the “Jungle” is not a solution https://www.change.org/p/amber-rudd-mp-stop-demolition-of-the-calais-jungle
RAPAR has teamed up with leading lawyers to work with two former Afghan interpreters for the British Army who fled Afghanistan after being threatened by the Taliban and are now stranded in the Calais “Jungle”.
Dr Rhetta Moran, of RAPAR, met the two men, Walid and Hamid, earlier this year when she and a colleague were filming at the camp. She alerted Channel Four News to their story and the filmed interview with the men has now been viewed 81,000 times on the C4 News Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/vb.6622931938/10153556523541939/?type=3&permPage=1
Human rights barrister Mark George of Garden Court North Chambers has been working with RAPAR on the case. He said: “These two young men risked their lives daily to help British forces in Afghanistan. By assisting the British state, they also crossed a line which means they can never again live in their own country for fear of reprisals. If fairness and decency had any part to play, the British state would welcome these men into this country in recognition of the service they provided to the UK.”
Solicitor Lewis Kett, from the Public Law Team at Duncan Lewis, is liaising with RAPAR and the men's solicitor in France to help them claim asylum in the UK. Lewis has already had success with a similar case of an Afghan interpreter.
Lewis travelled to the Calais camp to meet the men. Walid and Hamid were labelled “traitors” and “infidels” by the Taliban and received death threats. They fled their home country and made a perilous journey across Europe to seek protection in the UK.
The men have lodged asylum claims in France and confirmation has been received from British officials in Afghanistan that they worked for the British army in Helmand. Letters from senior army officers have commended their efforts.
Lewis said: “We are now working with the men's French lawyer to ask that the British and French authorities agree to transfer their asylum claims to the UK. Given the sacrifice these men made for the British effort in Afghanistan, we believe the UK not only has a moral duty to them but is best placed to assess the risk they face on return.”
At the Calais camp, Lewis found the population had increased to more than 9,000 occupants – a rise of 30 per cent in the previous month alone. Resources are becoming scarce and the French authorities' ban on building materials means it is impossible to create clean, safe and stable accommodation. There are open sewers and no functioning toilets or washing facilities at the camp
He added: “The Taliban have stepped up their efforts to target and punish those who helped coalition forces. Interpreters in particular are regarded by the Taliban as a high priority target. These two men now find themselves living in dire and inhumane conditions in the Calais 'Jungle' in the hope that the UK will agree to transfer their asylum claims here.”
RAPAR member Danny has known Walid and Hamid since February and says their living conditions are worse now than they were six months ago. “Food and water run out daily. The number and size of the rats are disgusting. This is no condition for humans to live in. The men find themselves in Calais because of the work they did for our armed forces: we cannot abandon them.”
Walid added: “It's not easy to spend such a long time here. If you lived here for a few months, then you would realise how hard it is.”
Rhetta Moran said RAPAR stood alongside Walid and Hamid and all other camp residents. “We reject and counter the political inaction and racism that lie at the heart of the squalid and dangerous conditions in the open sewer that is the Calais 'jungle' camp. All of the people living there should be allowed to make their refugee claims in the country where they want to be.”
The charity Care4Calais has just launched a petition to save the Calais “Jungle” saying that, despite the bad conditions, demolishing the tiny makeshift homes will only make things worse. Refugees fleeing war and persecution will not stop travelling to Calais. Dismantling the camp would lead to even more inhumane living conditions and the emergence of other, smaller camps in northern France with no running water, showers, toilets or medical facilities.
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