British forces employed around 7,000 Afghan local staff during their mission in Afghanistan, known as locally employed civilians (LECs). About half of LECs were interpreters, who accompanied troops on patrols, and assisted with intelligence, contact with the local community, and cultural advice. LECs faced risks during their employment, with several local military interpreters sustaining serious injuries, for instance through improvised explosive devices (IEDs). After the British military drawdown, they continued to face danger, because insurgents would target them as 'traitors', due to their work for Western forces. With the NATO withdrawal and Taliban take-over in 2021, LECs were left at even greater risk.
In April 2021, the new Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) was launched. While some applicants have been brought to safety in the UK over the last year, many eligible applicants have been left behind in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP)
The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy was launched in April 2021 to replace the previous Intimidation Scheme.
The resettlement scheme is delivered by the UK Ministry of Defence. There are 4 application categories under ARAP (more details on the UK Gov website)
Category 1: High risk / imminent threat: Urgent relocation
Category 2: Eligible for relocation by default: Routine relocation
Category 3: Not eligible for relocation: Other support offered
Category 4: Special cases: Case-by-case basis
The Ex-Gratia (Redundancy) Scheme
The Ex-Gratia Redundancy Scheme was introduced in 2013 and will close in November 2022.
It offers one of three packages: 1) a Financial Offer 2) a Training Offer or 3) an Offer for Relocation to the UK.
Initially, the Scheme was only open to LECs who were made redundant as a direct consequence of the UK’s military drawdown from Afghanistan. In 2018, the Scheme was expanded to include those who were made redundant on or after 1 May 2006 with 12 months or more continuous service outside the wire on the frontline mostly in Helmand.
In December 2020, the relocation scheme was expanded to LECs who resigned on or after 1 May 2006 with at least 12 months service outside the wire on the frontline (mostly in Helmand).
Around 455 interpreters and their families were resettled to the UK through the Ex-Gratia scheme.
The Intimidation Scheme
On the 1st of April 2021, the Intimidation Scheme was replaced by the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy.
The Intimidation Scheme offered support to all LECs (regardless of length of employment, location, or role), who are concerned about their safety because of their previous employment with the United Kingdom in Afghanistan.
The Intimidation Investigation Unit (IIU) in Kabul assessesed the security needs and can offer one of the following responses: 1) security advice 2) funded relocation within Afghanistan or 3) relocation to the UK.
In 2017, the Intimidation Scheme had already received more than 400 claims. The assessment of none of these, however, led to international relocation.
In 2018, a report by the House of Commons Select Committee concluded: "The Intimidation Scheme, in its current form, has dismally failed to give any meaningful assurance of protection. The scheme suffers from perceptions that it is unfair and miserly and provides insufficient protection for LECs living in what the UK Government has itself conceded is a ‘dangerous and volatile place’. Such perceptions will persist until the Intimidation Scheme offers a genuine prospect that, when individuals face serious and verifiable threats to their lives, as a result of having helped UK armed forces, they will be allowed to come to the UK."