Two years on: Afghan interpreter shot by Taliban still waiting for UK injury payment

Only 12 out of 135 translators who worked with British forces in Afghanistan have received compensation

Afghan interpreter Jamal Barak, who was shot by the Taliban, is still waiting for the British government to review his claim for compensation. Photo: Jamal Barak
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An Afghan interpreter who worked for the British Army is still waiting for compensation under the UK's injury payment scheme after he was shot twice by the Taliban.

It comes as the UK's Ministry of Defence told The National it had paid out more than £3.3 million ($3.9 million) to Afghans injured as a result of their employment with the British military under its Ex-Gratia Medical Payments review scheme.

Only 12 interpreters, out of 135 who were eligible to apply, have received payouts of about £400,000 each to date. as many more face long delays.

Jamal Barak, a former military interpreter who now lives in England, worked with the British Army for eight years.

He was twice injured by the Taliban while entering Taliban-held provinces with British troops on missions.

Despite him submitting a claim for compensation in December 2020, the MoD have not been in contact for 21 months.

Under a Freedom of Information request, the MoD said the system had been hampered due to staff being seconded to help with the evacuation of Kabul.

“They have not offered me anything yet,” Mr Barak told The National.

"The last email I received was 21 months ago when they requested medical evidence. It is very frustrating as all the injured interpreters have been waiting for the last few years for help under the scheme.

"I have been shot twice by the Taliban during my service with the MoD. Two years ago the MoD said they were reviewing my case but that has just been lies. Many of us have not been paid any compensation, we are emailing them and no one is responding.”

Jamal Barak on duty with British forces. Photo: Jamal Barak

The MoD has revealed that 135 interpreters were injured in Afghanistan, 111 of whom were on patrol with British troops at the time, and 26 were killed.

The Sulha Alliance CIO charity said the numbers reflected "the sacrifices" made.

The MoD told The National that claims had been delayed but pledged to work through all existing cases.

It said: "There are a number of factors that influence the length of time a case takes to conclude — these include, but are not limited to, settlement offers made by the MoD not being accepted by the claimant or the claimant failing to provide all of the medical information requested by the MoD for a decision to be made.

"Not all delays can be solely attributed to the MoD.

“Following the transfer of this work from one area of the department to another, there had been a temporary pause in engaging with outstanding claims.

"This was due to a prioritisation of resources following the fall of Kabul and the need to focus on evacuations and relocation.

"The MoD will now work to ensure that all outstanding claimants are contacted and their cases brought to a conclusion.”

The ministry said it had received 27 applications since the scheme was launched and was also dealing with requests for uplift payments to reflect the current economic situation in the UK, as well as cases of those whose injuries were deteriorating.

"We can confirm that a total of 12 former interpreters who worked directly for the British government in Afghanistan, and now reside in the UK, have submitted claims and have been made offers by the MoD," the ministry said.

"There are also 15 former interpreters who have a claim for a financial uplift, or who have appealed the original decision not to award them a payment under the Ex-Gratia Medical Payments scheme, which remain outstanding.

Jamal Barak eventually received British government help to relocate his father Shista Gul to the UK from Kabul. Photo: Jamal Barak

“According to our records, the MoD has paid out £3.3m in claims since 2017."

The UK government has a policy to provide support to former locally employed staff in Afghanistan who were injured as a result of their employment with the MoD.

Mr Barak came to the UK under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme, because of his work as an interpreter.

He has since faced several battles with the authorities to help bring his family to the UK to join him under the scheme, including his father Shista Gul.

Last year, the British government refused his father permission to be relocated to the UK, despite Mr Gul, having worked as a gardener for the British Army for seven years in a military compound in the southern province of Helmand.

Mr Barak eventually succeeded in bringing his siblings and his father to safety.

The Sulha Alliance CIO criticised the British government on Friday after it was revealed 30 per cent of Afghans eligible under the Arap scheme have yet to be relocated.

Updated: November 18, 2022, 5:59 PM
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