Afghan civilians who helped British forces during their time in Afghanistan are to be allowed to relocate to the UK.
While in Afghanistan, British forces relied heavily on interpreters to interact with locals and keep them informed about the British presence, as well as helping them in their mission to train the Afghan National Army.
When British forces withdrew from the country in 2014, only people who had served for 12 months or more and been made redundant after the 1st of May 2006 were allowed to relocate to the UK. Under the old scheme, some 1,319 former interpreters have made new lives in the UK.
The change now allows those who resigned to move to the UK, though they must have had 18 months of service instead of 12. This scheme will also extend to the dependents of former interpreters.
The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “Courageous Afghans worked side by side with our Armed Forces to defeat terrorism, risking their own lives in the pursuit of peace.”
Once the Afghan translators relocate here, they are often employed by the British military again, in order to assist in pre-deployment training. The role they play can be anything from civilians to high-ranking politicians. This helps provide more immersive and realistic training that helps British soldiers be better prepared for deployment to Afghanistan.
The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “They did not leave us behind then, and we will not leave them behind now.
“It is crucial there is a fair system in place to support those who want to relocate to the UK, and that is why we are going even further to make sure more individuals have the opportunity to apply for relocation.”
The new scheme will be brought into force in October, after being written into secondary legislation.