The Chartered Institute of Linguists responds to the plight of Afghan interpreters caught up in the recent turmoil in their country


As a UK-based and internationally-engaged, organisation, we can only be glad that the UK Armed Forces and diplomatic service have done what they could in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan in recent days; of course we wish they could have done more.

CIOL made urgent contact with the UK Ministry of Defence regarding interpreter access to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme that offers relocation and other assistance to interpreters and others who worked with UK bodies in Afghanistan. In that letter, we made the point that we count civil servants, defence and ex-Armed Forces staff among the CIOL membership. And, as our members know all too well, face-to-face interpreters do so much more than interpret language – they interpret culture, navigate difference and complexity and often help both sides negotiate challenging situations. We can only imagine how much this must have been the case in Afghanistan.

Our thoughts are with our fellow linguists. We continue to monitor the situation and talk to the relevant stakeholders and other like-minded organisations to see what can be done to help.