'Shame on you': Afghan translator hits out at Raab for 'failing' those who helped Brits

19 August 2021, 14:19 | Updated: 19 August 2021, 14:26

Protestors have been calling for the government to do more to help their loved ones flee the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Protestors have been calling for the government to do more to help their loved ones flee the Taliban in Afghanistan. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A former Afghan interpreter has hit out at Dominic Raab for "failing" to provide protection for the families of those who had helped British troops, following reports he delayed making a phone call while holidaying in Greece.

The Foreign Secretary was reportedly "unavailable" to make a call to his counterpart in Afghanistan about offering support to interpreters while in Crete.

He has been accused of "failing" those trying to flee the Taliban who had helped British troops, with Labour calling for him to resign.

Read more: Defence Secretary defends Dominic Raab as Labour calls for him to be sacked

Read more: Raab admits 'in hindsight' he would not have taken holiday amid Afghan crisis

A former translator, who has lived in the UK for nearly 11 years after helping to translate meetings and documents and conducting operations for British soldiers, said the Foreign Secretary was "failing to provide safety and protection to the families of those in Afghanistan who have served for the British Government in the war against terror".

The 35-year-old told the PA News Agency: "If he didn't make the call, I'm shocked. How could somebody do something like that in this chaotic situation?"

"If he was too busy during his holidays to help, shame on him.

"The interpreters and their families could be killed at any time.

"I'm a British citizen; was he too busy to look after the families of British citizens in Afghanistan?"

Reports say that officials suggested to Mr Raab, who has since returned from his trip, that he should call the Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar on Friday, before the Taliban seized Kabul.

He was "unavailable" while on holiday and the Daily Mail said the Afghan foreign ministry declined to set up a call with a more junior minister.

The Foreign Office said: "The Foreign Secretary was engaged on a range of other calls and this one was delegated to another minister."

Mr Raab said as Foreign Secretary he was fully able to respond to events developing on the ground and even though he was on holiday he was able to take part in Cobra meetings.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC Mr Raab said: "Look, as I said, everyone was caught off guard by the pace and scale of the Taliban takeover."

Read more: Hundreds of desperate Afghans cram into US cargo plane as they flee Taliban

Read more: Dominic Raab: Speed of Taliban's takeover is 'lesson we've all got to learn from'

Asked if, in hindsight, he would have gone on holiday he said: "No. But hindsight is a wonderful thing, which is the luxury of commentators not politicians who’ve actually got to do the job."

The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has since defended Mr Raab for failing to call his Afghan counterpart, while Labour have called for him to be sacked.

Mr Wallace told LBC: "I don't know about his call sheet - we all have long ones - but what I will tell you is, last Friday, phone calls to a rapidly disappearing Afghan Government would not have made the blindest of difference."

The headlines will not ease complaints aimed at Mr Raab and Mr Johnson, who was said to have gone to Somerset, for holidaying while the Taliban advanced. They were criticised by MPs in Parliament on Wednesday, which was recalled to debate the crisis.

Read more: Boris Johnson condemned by MPs from all parties over handling of Afghanistan crisis

Huge crowds of people have been seen at Hamid Karzai International in recent days as they try to escape a future under the group.

Devastating scenes continue to unfold, with women seen desperately "throwing babies over barbed wire" as they pleaded with soldiers to take them to safety.

Read more: Desperate Afghan mothers fleeing Taliban 'throw babies over Kabul airport barbed wire'

In a press conference on Thursday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the rights of women would be respected within the "frameworks of Sharia" law.

"Our women are Muslim, they will also be happy to be living within our framework of Sharia," said Mr Mujahid, saying that women would be able to attend school and work in schools and hospitals.

He said the Taliban does not "have any grudges" and did not want any "internal enemies or external enemies".

However, whether or not the promises are kept remains to be seen, with concerns that an extreme form of Sharia law could be reinstated.

Read more: Taliban declares 'amnesty' and says it will 'respect women's rights' in Afghanistan

Last seen in the country in 2001, this could include restrictions on women's rights such as them being forced to wear a burka and being unable to leave home without being accompanied by a male relative.

There have already been scenes of violence in the streets and at the airport, with a total of 12 people being killed near and inside Kabul's airport.

The deaths, which were reported by NATO and Taliban officials, have taken place since of the fall of the capital on Sunday, Reuters said.

A Taliban official said they were killed either by gun shots or stampedes and said people at the airport should go home if they are not allowed to travel.

International forces have secured Hamid Karzai International as countries look to extract their citizens and Afghan refugees after the government collapsed.

The UK government has pledged to welcome up to 20,000 Afghan refugees with its new resettlement scheme.

The scheme is intended to help those most at risk following the takeover of the Taliban. The government has announced that women, children and religious and other minorities will be prioritised and offered a route out of the country. 

Other at-risk groups include journalists and those that have assisted western efforts against the Taliban in the past. Although there are around 900 British troops currently in Kabul to help evacuate these former Afghan staff and their families, many have been forced to go into hiding and have not made it to Kabul.