Plans to rapidly relocate hundreds more Afghans who worked for the British military and U.K. government, mostly as interpreters, have been announced.
Including family members, more than 3,000 Afghans are expected to be allowed to settle in the U.K., joining 1,300 who have already done so.
The decision comes amid fears for their safety as international troops prepare to leave the country.
Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom Ben Wallace said it was “only right” to accelerate plans. He added that those being relocated might otherwise “be at risk of reprisals” from the Taliban.
The issue has been a concern since British forces ended combat operations in Helmand in 2014, with troops who served there being among the most vocal in their support for measures to protect Afghans who assisted them during their deployment.
Earlier plans applied strict criteria on who could apply for entry to the U.K., including length of service and precise roles. (For example, interpreters who worked with British troops on the frontline in Helmand for more than a year were favored.)
But under new government policy, any current or former locally employed staff who are assessed to be under serious threat will be offered priority relocation to the U.K., regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served.
The government said this was being done to reflect the fact that the security situation in Afghanistan has changed, acknowledging the potential risk to local staff who have worked for the U.K. government and military over the past 20 years.
In a statement, the government said: “Following the decision to begin the withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan, the prime minister has agreed with the Ministry of Defence, Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to rapidly accelerate applications through the policy.”
Read Full Article from BBC News (United Kingdom) (05/31/21)
Author: Beale, Jonathan
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