WHEN an occupying power leaves for home it almost inevitably also leaves problems behind for local people who have collaborated closely with it. This problem is likely to be seen in a particularly acute form in the case of the approximately 100 Iraqi interpreters and translators who are currently working for the British forces. At the beginning they may have thought the occupation would be short-lived and relatively benign and that the jobs on offer would enable them to hone their skills while making some money. However, the reality has been different; several of their colleagues have been killed by insurgents and many more have received threats to themselves and their families. They are naturally nervous about what will happen when Britain withdraws its forces and have been expecting that they would be offered a visa to enter Britain in return for the services they have given in dangerous circumstances.

When Denmark and Spain withdrew from Iraq they gave their interpreters and others the chance to leave with them; Poland is making similar provision and so is the US. But The Times revealed yesterday that no such arrangement is likely to be made by Britain; inquiries by the interpreters, often backed by strong recommendations from Army officers who know their work, have been ignored or responded to with the advice that decisions will be made on a “case-by-case” basis by the immigration service. That is not good enough. These people deserve better.


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