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28 July 2021 Letter by Senior Defence Staff, including six former heads of the armed forces expressing their “grave concern” that so many Afghan LECs are excluded from the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy.
"Too many of our former interpreters have unnecessarily and unreasonably been rejected… We strongly urge that the policy is reviewed again immediately, to ensure more are given sanctuary". If any of our former interpreters are murdered by the Taliban in the wake of our withdrawal, the dishonour would lay squarely at our nation's feet."
The new Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) was introduced in April 2021 to reflect the changing situation in Afghanistan. On the 31st of March, the Ministry of Defence announced an acceleration of the programme.
It offers relocation to current and former employees such as embassy support staff, those in political or counter-terrorism roles, or cultural advisors who could face threats related to their occupation. Anyone facing imminent risk will be offered priority relocation regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served.
Three long-serving Afghan interpreters have finally been informed in December 2020 that they can relocate to the UK with their families. This includes Ricky, who has worked with British troops for more than 18 years and who survived a Taliban ambush.
The Sulha Alliance expresses the hope that the move by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to allow ‘discretion’ to be used when examining the cases of translators, will be extended to the cases of other interpreters who currently remain under threat in Afghanistan.
Government announces that an additional cohort of interpreters – those who resigned on or after 01 May 2006 after serving a minimum of 12 months on the frontline – would be allowed to apply to move to the UK from the 1st of December 2020.
While the Sulha Alliance welcomes this development, we are concerned that the Ex-Gratia Redundancy Scheme still excludes more former interpreters than it includes.
Interpreters in Afghanistan protest in Kabul against their exclusion from the Ex-Gratia Scheme and ask the UK Government for protection through relocation to the UK.
The Sulha Alliance appeals to the British Government to respond to the demands of the protestors and provide their former employees with protection.
The Sulha Alliance expresses concern about the high number of disciplinary dismissals, which disqualify LECs from the Ex-Gratia Scheme.