Dr Sara de Jong, political scientist at the University of York and co-founder of the Sulha Network: "Afghanistan is of course a very unsafe country for many people, but this is a group of people who is specifically targetted because of their employment history.
"There has always been a broad consensus among the British public, wherever you are on the political spectrum that [relocation Afghan interpreters] is the right thing to do.
Example of coverage in the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel and Dutch newspaper Trouw of Sulha Alliance's joint international letter to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Heads of State and Governments in the US, Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, France and Italy.
"Without a coordinated effort to guarantee the protection of the Afghan local staff that supported its partner nations, NATO risks betraying its own promise that the “drawdown will be orderly, coordinated, and deliberate”.
Ed Aitken, a former British Army officer and the co-founder of the Sulha Alliance, which is supporting former interpreters, welcomed the pledge to speed up the application process.
Mr Aitken said: ‘The announcement is good news, although there are still gaps with those who are eligible for support, most notably interpreters who were terminated. ‘There is some concession for those who were terminated for the most minor offences but the bar is still set very low for exclusion from the scheme, particularly when you compare it to the bar for exclusion for those seeking asylum, which is set very high. The question that needs to be asked is, does the alleged offence really justify the death sentence that exclusion from the scheme would certainly result in?’
Retired Colonel Simon Diggins, the former British attaché in Kabul and now a campaigner for the Sulha Alliance said he welcomed the acceleration of relocations saying it showed “goodwill and a positive attitude of officials and senior ministers”.
However, he was critical of a continued lack of clarity for translators who were dismissed from the British Army and may be denied relocation as a result. Diggins also questioned whether logistics would allow so many to be relocated in so little time.
“I am really not sure how they are going to make it work with all those numbers. I really hope they can. But the numbers are huge and do they really have the resources to deliver that?” he asked.
Veteran Army officer Ed Aitken, founder of the Sulha Alliance campaign group, said he was “pleased” about the scheme but warned that there was a “low” bar for rejecting those who previously risked their lives to support British troops.
“We are pleased with where we are but there are concerns there are some glaring gaps where there are going to be parts of this community who are left vulnerable and won’t be included under this policy,” Mr Aitken, who undertook two tours of Helmand Province, told BBC Radio 4’s Today.
Afghan interpreters face a “ghastly betrayal” if they are left behind when British forces withdraw this year, a former defence attaché to Kabul said.
Colonel Simon Diggins said the interpreters were “really scared” by the planned pullout by September 11 and urged ministers to let more of them into Britain.
Peter Gordon-Finlayson, former Army captain and founding member of the Sulha Alliance, which campaigns for interpreters, said: 'The Sulha Alliance is delighted that the Government recognises Nesar's qualification for relocation to the UK. He is truly a worthy recipient of UK support.'
"Hundreds of Afghans whose lives are at risk from the Taliban because they helped the UK will be allowed to come to Britain under a new Government scheme. [...]
The scheme is the latest twist in the controversy over the fate of locals who helped British forces and it represents another victory for this paper's Betrayal of the Brave campaign highlighting the issue.
The Government believes hundreds of Afghan staff and their families could be brought to the UK.
The scheme will offer relocation to current and ex-employees such as embassy support staff, those in political or counter-terrorism roles, or cultural advisers. It will also give hope to interpreters who have been unable to come to the UK under a separate relocation scheme where they had to be working in Helmand for 12 months and then made redundant or quit.
Interpreters in the public eye – pictured with politicians or on TV, for example – could now be allowed into Britain on the basis that their lives could be at risk. Those 'terminated' from their position with the British Army could also be allowed in if they can provide fresh evidence that their lives are in immediate danger.
Defence sources said they will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, with those terminated for less serious reasons more likely to be allowed into the UK."
Major Ed Aitken, who served in Helmand, said on the alliance's behalf: 'It is a deeply institutional injustice that is a reflection of those who make the policies back in London.'
Colonel Simon Diggins, a founder member of the Sulha Alliance, discussed the potential issues raised by President Trump's recent announcements on withdrawing US forces on British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS).
His overall conclusion is that, without backfilling of the withdrawing US forces, UK forces will inevitably have to become more focused on their own Force Protection and security and less on the operational mission, supporting the training and development of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). At some point, the whole mission may become untenable.
More broadly, a precipitate collapse of the NATO Mission will be extremely harmful to overall security, including the morale of ANSF. This will create an opportunity for the Taliban and IS to exploit, further endangering the security and lives of our former interpreters.
'I call on the British government to grant sanctuary to all our former interpreters ... We must make good our debt of honour to these brave men and women.'
The campaign for justice for our former interpreters has attracted widespread support from right across the political and media spectrum; the award winning Daily Mail's 'Betrayal of the Brave' campaign, in particular, has often foregrounded the issue in a way that politicians cannot ignore. We wish to acknowledge the determined and principled engagement of many journalists, but especially Larisa Brown and David Williams.