A newly unveiled plan will allow Afghan interpreters who worked for the British armed forces to move to the UK, but campaigners warn the plan has “glaring gaps” that could leave people “vulnerable”.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that under the terms of the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (Arap), Afghan employees who have worked for the British government will see their applications to settle in Britain ‘quickly accelerated’ after international allies, including the UK and US, announced their intention to withdraw from the war-stricken country.
Officials said the policy, in effect from 1 April, will ensure that all current or former locally recruited employees deemed to be at serious risk are given priority relocation to the UK, regardless of their employment status, rank or role. , or length of time served.
Veteran army officer Ed Aitken, founder of the Sulha Alliance campaign group, said he was “satisfied” with the plan but warned there was a “low” bar for rejecting those who previously risked their lives to support British troops
Including the workers’ relatives, some 3,000 more Afghans are expected to settle in the UK to ‘build a new life’ under the plan.
Veteran army officer Ed Aitken, founder of the Sulha Alliance campaign group, said he was “satisfied” with the plan but warned there was a “low” bar for rejecting those who previously risked their lives to support British troops.
“We are happy where we are, but there are concerns that there will be some glaring gaps where parts of this community will remain vulnerable and not be covered by this policy,” Mr Aitken, who took two tours of Helmand County, told reporters. BBC Radio 4’s Today.
Those who were dismissed from their positions, which amounted to 1,010 of the employees – “about 35 percent,” according to Mr Aitken, are not eligible for redeployment except on the basis of individual cases.
He described the size of those whose employment was terminated as ‘a problem with HR management’ and added: ‘If you compare the bar for asylum seekers to be rejected in the UK, the bar is incredibly high.
“Now when you compare that bar for turning down Afghan interpreters, it’s clearly trying to set very low the idea that minor violations (can prevent access to the scheme).”
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said he was determined that no one who supported Britain’s armed forces would see their lives “in danger” from the withdrawal.
More than 1,400 Afghans and their families have already moved to the UK, and hundreds more received funding for education and training.
“We are deeply indebted to our interpreters and other local personnel who have risked their lives working with British troops in Afghanistan,” the minister said.
“We have always made it clear that no one’s life should be endangered because they have supported the British government to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“As we withdraw our armed forces, it is only right that we accelerate the relocation of those at risk of retaliation.
“The Home Secretary and I will do everything we can to ensure that we recognize their services and bring them to safety. It’s the right thing to do.”
The Ministry of Defense said the renewed policy “recognizes and reflects” that the situation in Afghanistan has changed, and “and with it the potential risk to local staff who have worked for the British government over the past 20 years”.
The remaining 750 British troops are there to train local troops after the combat troops left in 2014 2014
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said he was determined that no one who supported the UK’s armed forces would ‘see their life in danger’ from the withdrawal
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘I am proud to say that the UK is keeping its promise to those Afghan interpreters and other local personnel who have worked tirelessly alongside our armed forces.
“It is our moral duty to recognize the risks they have faced in the fight against terrorism and to reward their efforts.
“I’m glad we’re fully responding to this by giving them and their families the chance to build a new life in this country.”
The remaining 750 British troops are there to train local troops after combat troops left in 2014. They began to withdraw from the country in May.
The announcement comes after President Joe Biden announced that all US troops would have left on September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terror attack.
General Sir Nick Carter, head of the British Armed Forces, said it was not a decision ‘what we had hoped for’.
A total of 456 British troops have died in Afghanistan since 2001.