Sunset behind Gardez mountains in Afghanistan 150618 CREDIT NATO
Afghanistan

More Afghan Interpreters Eligible To Move To UK Under New Rules

Afghan civilians served as interpreters for British forces in Helmand province between May 2006 and December 2014.

Sunset behind Gardez mountains in Afghanistan 150618 CREDIT NATO

Dozens more Afghan interpreters who risked their lives supporting British troops will be able to begin new lives in the UK, the Government has said.

The move is part of an expanded relocation scheme announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Afghan civilians served as interpreters for British forces in Afghanistan's Helmand province from May 2006 until December 2014.

Their linguistic and cultural expertise helped to protect troops, Aghan partners and local communities.

As gratitude for their service, the UK Government set up the Ex-Gratia Scheme in June 2013.

It allows interpreters to either relocate to the UK, receive five years of training and a monthly stipend, or receive the equivalent of 18 months' salary.

Through the scheme, 445 former staff and their families have chosen to move to the UK, meaning a total of 1,319 Afghan interpreters and their families have already been supported as they create new lives in the UK, according to government figures.

British Army Officer in Helmand Province (Picture: PA).
A British Army officer in Helmand province (Picture: PA).

The changes expand eligibility criteria for those applying for relocation.

Previously, former employees must have been made redundant on or after 1 May 2006 with at least 12 months of service outside the wire.

Now, those who resigned on or after the date, having served at least 18 months on the frontline, can also apply.

Their spouses and children will also benefit, the Government said.

The Government said the changes will be made through secondary legislation in October.

However, there are concerns many Afghans will still be ineligible because they did not work for long enough.

The Defence Secretary and Home Secretary visited Stanford Training Area in Norfolk last week to see how Afghan nationals are helping British troops ahead of deployment on Operation Toral, which sees British troops training and mentoring Afghan security forces.

Mr Wallace said: "Our efforts in Afghanistan simply could not have been possible without the help of brave interpreters who risked their lives to work alongside our personnel throughout the conflict.

"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."

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.

"In recognition of their dedication, today we are fulfilling our promise and have expanded the relocation scheme so that more brave Afghans and their families can come and build a new life in the UK."

Cover image: Sunset behind Gardez mountains in Afghanistan (Picture: NATO).