Paying our debts to those who helped our soldiers

Britain has an obligation to help those who have helped us.

Our troops in Afghanistan often had their lives saved or made easier by local interpreters and guides. Sadly some of those people have found their own lives in danger from elements of the Taleban as a result.

That's why we need to pay our debts, and I welcome the announcement this weekend by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel announce that dozens more Afghan interpreters who risked their lives supporting British troops to defeat terrorism are to begin new lives in the UK.

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.

Yesterday’s announcement will allow an additional cohort of interpreters – those who resigned on or after 1st 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:

"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."

More details of the announcement can be found here.


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