Around 50 Afghan interpreters who served with the British troops on the frontline in Helmand, their wives and children, will be granted with indefinite leave to remain under the new qualifying measures.
So far, a few hundred former translators who helped the British troops in Afghanistan have started new lives in Britain, but some interpreters who worked with the troops during some of the worst moments in Helmand before 2012, have been excluded from the opportunity to obtain such a visa.
According to the UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, the existing policy failed to take into account the sacrifice of many interpreters who had left before 2012, and that is why the qualifying period for the new policy extends back to May 2006.
“Frontline patrol interpreters were the unsung heroes of the military campaign in Afghanistan. They served our nation with dazzling distinction. Standing shoulder to shoulder with our troops on the battlefield, they demonstrated unflinching courage in carrying out duties that were fraught with great difficulty and danger. And we will do what is right to honor their extraordinary service,” he said for Daily Mail.
Under the current scheme, in order for these interpreters to qualify they had to be serving on an arbitrary date in December 2012, and also to have served in Helmand for at least a year.
The new policy extends the qualifying period back to May 2006 and grants the applicants with a five-year visa to enter Britain. They will still have to apply for a residence permit; however, the application fee will be waived for this category of applicants.
The changes in this policy come after a three-year campaign of the Mail, called Betrayal of the Brave, that showed how the interpreters that were left behind, were shot and executed by the Taliban.
Among those affected by the policy, is also the former Afghan interpreter for the SAS, called Abdul, who has spent the past years running away for the Taliban, who hunt him relentlessly. His brother who was also an interpreter for the British troops, has been granted with the sanctuary in Britain.
The 35-year-old Abdul, who has four kids, worked for the UK forces from 2017 until June 2012, when he quit because of the death threats he was receiving, just a few months before the qualification date.
He expressed his delight for the changes in the relocation scheme.
“This is very good news and I pray that I will be included with my wife and children. We have been hiding from the Taliban for too long,” he said from his hiding place in Kabul.
More than 178 thousand people signed a petition over the treatment of translators, including former generals and politicians, after a scathing report by the Commons defense select committees found that not a single interpreter had been allowed to the UK under the scheme.