“We Are Here is a crucial reminder to the UK and international community not to forget the plight of millions of Afghans who have fled or remain stuck in Afghanistan and at risk. The UK government must live up to its promises and moral duties by ensuring that Afghans who supported the UK mission and their families as well as other at-risk Afghans are provided sanctuary and a safe route to the UK.”
UK Director of Human Rights Watch
We Are Here documents the experiences of Afghan interpreters who were resettled to the UK under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP), launched in April 2021, through photo portraiture and interviews.
By centering Afghan interpreters’ own stories, photographer Andy Barnham and researcher Dr Sara de Jong invite viewers to engage with the people behind the headlines and numbers. ‘We Are Here, Because You Were There: Afghan Interpreters in UK’ also encourages reflection on the deep entanglement between the UK and Afghanistan, which have shaped Afghan interpreters’ lives from childhood or early adulthood. Together their individual stories and images reflect the structural and lasting impact of Britain’s military employment practices, migration laws and foreign policy.
The portraits have been taken in hotels and houses and have been edited in a manner to help anonymise the newly arrived interpreters who have been at risk and who, potentially, have family in Afghanistan still under threat. The individual portraits presented are a composite of up to a dozen frames which have each been completely blurred or pixelated and then overlaid to present a final portrait. This process can also be seen as inflicting trauma on the portraits, in acknowledgement of the experiences when serving with the British Army, other NATO forces and when escaping Afghanistan.
The quotes are taken from in-depth interviews which cover the Afghan interpreters’ motivations to work for the British Armed Forces, their working alongside soldiers, the threats they faced in Afghanistan, their evacuation, their early experiences in the UK and hopes
for the future.
All proceeds to go to the Sulha Alliance
A5 21 × 14.8 cm, 72 pages
Thread sewn binding allowing for book to lay flat and fully open
The project was a winner at the 2022 PX3, Prix de la Photographie Paris in the portrait category.