Dozens more Afghan interpreters who supported British Armed Forces on the frontline in Helmand Province will be able to move to the UK as part of an expanded relocation scheme announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Afghan civilians worked as interpreters for British forces on the frontline in Helmand from May 2006 – December 2014, serving alongside them in extremely dangerous situations.
They were often the eyes and ears of British forces, and their linguistic and cultural expertise enabled the UK to work hand-in-hand with our Afghan partners and local communities while protecting British troops.
The Ex-Gratia Scheme was initially set up in June 2013 to recognise the Government’s huge debt of gratitude for their service. Under the scheme, interpreters could choose to either relocate to the UK, receive 5 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 relocate 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.
The new changes will significantly expand the eligibility criteria for former interpreters to apply for the relocation offer. Until now, former employees must have been made redundant on or after 01 May 2006 with 12 months or more service outside the wire on the frontline.
Today’s announcement will allow an additional cohort of interpreters – those who resigned on or after 01 May 2006 after serving a minimum of 18 months on the frontline – to apply for relocation.
Their spouses and children will also benefit from the expanded scheme.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
The Defence Secretary and Home Secretary visited Stanford Training Area in Norfolk this week to observe Afghan nationals training British troops prior to their Op TORAL deployment, which sees British troops train and mentor Afghan forces and provide force protection for NATO advisors with the Kabul Security Force.
Afghan nationals routinely support the training that troops undertake to provide an element of realism – performing the roles of interpreters, leading politicians and members of the public.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
The changes to the scheme will be made through secondary legislation in October and be implemented shortly afterwards.