Articles & Blogs
The ascendancy of the specific configuration of the migration-security nexus that links migration with security threats to host nations [...] has been well documented. However, this focus on one dominant configuration of the nexus has neglected the variety of configurations that the migration-security nexus invokes in discourse, practice and analysis. In this article, I have proposed an analytical framework that allows a more comprehensive engagement with the range of associations that the security-migration nexus invokes, and have illustrated the use of this framework with the under-researched case of Afghan and Iraqi former LECs seeking protection through migration. [...]
Reiterating the words of the Afghan LEC who asked ‘Do you expect me to carry my dead body, and say, “I need protection”?’, denaturalizing the [migration-security] nexus is needed to challenge the perversity of security practices which force people seeking refuge to risk their lives in order to save their lives.
A year ago, a plan to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), the predominantly Roman Catholic police force that served Ireland between 1836 and 1922, fell through because of the controversy surrounding its role in the bloody 1919–21 confrontation with the IRA – even if that had been largely conducted by RIC ‘gendarmeries’ in the shape of the ‘Black and Tans’ and ‘Auxiliary Force’. Old enmities and feelings die hard.
This story is being played out again in relation to the fate of the UK’s former Locally Employed Staff (LES), which includes interpreters, from Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the same arguments – over eligibility for support, recognition, redundancy payments, and whether or not to relocate them – are being heard again and for many of the same reasons.
The “lightning speed” of the Taliban’s advance fails to fully explain why so many western nations have been left scrambling to bring their former local Afghan staff to sanctuary. Interpreters and other locally engaged civilians (known as LECs) have been at risk for many years.
Interpreters themselves, but also veterans, journalists and other advocates have said so for a long time. The relocation should not have needed to happen at the 11th hour.
[...] Media exposure has resulted in change, but it has been haphazard and reactive. Interpreters at the British Embassy in Kabul were initially excluded from relocation because they were subcontracted rather than employed directly by the UK government. Abdicating responsibility by employing people through third parties is not done accidentally.
Only after the embassy interpreters reached out to the Sulha Alliance, and their plight was highlighted in the Times and the Daily Mail, were they offered relocation to the UK on July 31. All 21 are currently still in Afghanistan, fearing for their lives. None of them knows when they will be relocated. Others who have received relocation offers as recently as in the last days have had no information about the next steps. Passport offices are closed and the local unit processing relocation applications is not responding to calls or emails.
On August 1, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Wallace confidently declared that: “Those coming to Britain know the truth. If you looked out for us, we will look after you.” To get to the truth, it may be better to ask those who won’t be coming to Britain any time soon.
Guaranteeing the human rights of local staff in Afghanistan and those resettled to the west would lend greater credibility to Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg’s appeal to the Afghan people to “build a sustainable peace [that] safeguards the human rights of all Afghans”.
Without a coordinated approach to the protection of the Afghan local staff that supports its partner nations, Nato risks betraying its promise that their “drawdown will be orderly, coordinated, and deliberate”.
International relocation shouldn’t be a last resort, out of reach for all – and there is no excuse for further lives being wasted away.