Afghan interpreters eligible to move to UK under new relocation scheme

Dozens more Afghan interpreters, who worked with British forces in Afghanistan, will be able to apply to settle in the UK following the government decision to expand a relocation scheme.

Former interpreters and servicemen have welcomed the move which could mean about 100 linguists and their families will be made eligible to apply for resettlement.

About 450 interpreters moved to the UK with their families under the original scheme, announced up in 2013.

At present, former employees need to have been made redundant on or after 1 May 2006 with 12 months or more service “outside the wire on the frontline” to apply.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said expanding the scheme was "the honourable thing to do".

“Our efforts in Afghanistan simply could not have been possible without the help of brave interpreters who risked their lives to work alongside our personnel throughout the conflict.

Wallace said that they did not leave anyone behind then, and we will not leave them behind now.

Mr Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the expansion of the relocation scheme on a joint visit at Stanford Military Training Area in Norfolk, where they saw British troops prepare for a deployment to Kabul working alongside former Afghan interpreters who are now living in the UK.

The Interpreters’ Lives Matter campaign group said it was “delighted” by the news, but warned the scheme still “doesn’t include everyone”.

British forces in Afghanistan employed 7,000 Afghan civilians, of whom about half were interpreters, according to a 2018 Common’s defence select committee report.

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.

The changes to the scheme will be made through secondary legislation in October and be implemented shortly afterwards.