Afghan interpreters should be able to stay in UK - defence secretary" width="976" height="549">
The defence secretary said he would be "amazed" if interpreters who helped the Army were deported
Afghan interpreters who fought the Taliban alongside British troops should be able to stay in the UK, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said, after a group of them raised concerns.More than 150 Afghans given sanctuary after serving with the Army say they face being sent back as their five-year visas expire, unless they pay
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In a letter to the Home Office and Mr Williamson - which has been seen by the BBC - the interpreters said they had been left in "limbo" and urged the government to grant them and their families the right to live in the UK.
They accused the government of preventing some of their families from coming to Britain, noting that couples who had had children since arriving were facing problems.The group, who served on the front line in Helmand Province, also called for access to veterans' benefits and war pensions for the wounded.Mr Williamson told BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale: "We've made it absolutely clear they should be staying in this country. "We've been in touch with the Home Office making that position clear, and I'm confident that the Home Office will be supporting us to ensure that that happens as quickly as possible."When asked if the visa fees - which many interpreters say they cannot pay - will be waived, Mr Williamson said: "That is our suggestion and we are very confident the Home Office will see the sense in what we are proposing."Many interpreters fear their ties to the British forces will endanger them if they return to Afghanistan, with one telling the BBC he believed he would be killed by the Taliban.The defence secretary added that he had "no doubt" the matter would be resolved swiftly.The BBC has contacted the Home Office for comment.
Refugees and asylum seekers
Gavin Williamson
Ministry of Defence
Home Office
British Army
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