Afghans who helped UK forces to be housed in Welsh military camp

So far, 25,042 Afghans have been brought to the UK under resettlement schemes

Refugees from Afghanistan wait to be processed after arriving on an evacuation flight at London's Heathrow airport in 2021. Getty Images
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Dozens of Afghan citizens who risked their lives to support the UK's operations in Afghanistan are to be housed in a military camp in Wales.

About 50 people will be moved into East Camp, a Ministry of Defence housing estate in St Athan, in the Vale of Glamorgan, by the end of the month, with more joining them in mid-April.

The site can host up to 180 people and will be used by families who are eligible under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap).

Arap supports people and their families who worked for, or with, the UK government and British armed forces in Afghanistan – such as interpreters.

The initiative was implemented on April 1, 2021, and remains open.

It aims to honour the service of eligible Afghan citizens by providing support that reflects their work, while ensuring that they and their family members who relocate to the UK can permanently build their lives there.

Afghan citizens who are eligible for relocation to the UK under Arap may come with a partner, dependent children and additional family members who are deemed eligible by the Ministry of Defence and suitable for relocation by the Home Office.

A Defence Ministry representative said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to those brave Afghans who risked their lives working alongside our forces in support of the UK mission.

“To ensure Arap-eligible families can begin a settled life in the UK as quickly as possible, the UK government is offering transitional and settled accommodation from the Defence Estate, including at East Camp St Athan.

“Eligible Afghans will be housed there temporarily for an approximate period of six weeks before moving to more settled accommodation.”

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The Defence Ministry said it is working with the Welsh government and the Vale of Glamorgan Council to ensure that the project is managed “with everybody in mind”, especially those who live locally.

In November 2023, the government announced that about 3,000 Afghans in Pakistan would move to the UK by the end of the year under Arap after the Pakistan government carried out a clampdown on people thought to be living in the country illegally.

The UK also operates a second programme called the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) to relocate Afghan citizens who assisted UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for British values, including “democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech and rule of law”, as well as “extremely vulnerable” people such as women and girls at risk and members of minority groups.

The government has committed to welcoming up to 20,000 people over the coming years through ACRS.

It has, however, come under criticism by some who claim the programme's narrow operation is unlawful and that at-risk people who had a “legitimate expectation” of being considered under the ACRS are excluded instead.

They include a women’s rights activist who specialised in prosecuting cases involving violence against women, forced marriage and honour crimes and is now challenging the government in court about how it is operating the scheme.

So far, 25,042 Afghans have been brought to the UK under the Afghan Arap and ACRS schemes.

The Ministry of Defence has refused to carry out a “no-holds barred” inquiry into British involvement in Afghanistan including evacuation operations carried out as the Taliban retook power in 2021, during which airlifts rescued 15,000 people at risk from the militant group but which left many behind at the time.

Updated: March 30, 2024, 6:28 AM