Abandoned Afghan interpreters are paying people smugglers thousands of pounds to flee the country as they say illegal routes are only way to escape the murderous Taliban
- Former British military translators forced to turn to people smugglers to escape
- At least three interpreters handed over thousands of pounds to be smuggled out
- They say they would rather gamble with illegal routes than risk Taliban capture
At least three interpreters who worked on the frontlines have handed over thousands of pounds to be smuggled out of their homeland.
They say they would rather gamble with the perilous illegal routes run by traffickers than risk being caught by the Taliban.
The fears of those who risked their lives beside UK troops have been fuelled by executions, beatings and house-to-house searches in Kabul and surrounding areas.
One former translator was taken by Taliban gunmen from his home and held in a tiny cell, accused of working for the British, while a 30-year-old ex-interpreter said his mother was beaten during a search for him on Thursday night.
One translator, Khan, 30, was taken to hospital after being shot in an ambush he blamed on the Taliban
The fear has seen a boom in business for human traffickers, increasing by 150 per cent since the Taliban took Kabul last month.
The three men, two of whom took their families with them, said they had no alternative but to turn to the smugglers, joining thousands of Afghans paying up to £20,000 for a family to reach countries such as France and Germany. It costs even more to get to the UK.
They are now in Iran, waiting to hear when they can move on.
Using WhatsApp, smugglers plot the route of the refugees – who they call ‘guests’ – on separate legs of journeys from Afghanistan either via Pakistan or directly into Iran and on to Turkey. Separate teams of smugglers then orchestrate travel through Europe.
Prices for various stages of the journey are increasing rapidly as demand rises, starting with an initial £2,000 per adult from Afghanistan through Pakistan and on to Iran and £1,100 to get to Turkey.
An option involving visas and flights from Pakistan to Turkey costs around £10,000. From there, one route involves going by boat to Italy for around £8,000.
The former UK military translators now in hiding in Iran are expected to be joined by more Afghans who worked with British troops soon.
Their stories have been highlighted by the Daily Mail’s Betrayal of the Brave campaign.
One translator, Khan, 30, who worked for the Electronic Warfare Unit for two years, was taken to hospital after being shot in an ambush he blamed on the Taliban. He was rejected for relocation after being dismissed for using drugs.
He said last night: ‘This is my only option. The journey is dangerous but it is safer than staying at home. The smugglers have been professional, like an army.
‘When I reach Turkey, I will try to come to the UK. They will not send me back to the Taliban. They should have rescued me.’
A second ex-interpreter, aged 34, who worked for the UK military for three years, is too frightened to be named while in Iran, where Afghan translators have been killed.
He said: ‘I had no alternative but to escape because I am a target for the Taliban. This is very dangerous but it is less dangerous than living a life in hiding.
‘If I reach England, I am sure the people will not send me back.’
The third, Ahmad, 35, speaking from close to the Turkish border, said people smugglers had presented his family with ‘hope’ as staying in his home city of Kandahar meant ‘possible death’.
He said he plans to get to Germany where he has a brother.