Afghan interpreters who worked with British military due to arrive in UK after fleeing Taliban

More than 3,000 Afghans are expected to take advantage of the scheme offered by the British government

(FILES) In this file photo Afghan military personnel walk near the airport during fighting between Taliban militants and Afghan security forces in Kunduz on October 1, 2015.  The United States called on June 22, 2021 for an end to violence in Afghanistan, blaming Taliban insurgents for much of the bloodshed, three days ahead a visit by President Ashraf Ghani to the White House. "The violence must cease," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters."We urge the sides to engage in serious negotiations that determine a political roadmap for Afghanistan's future," he added. / AFP / Wakil KOHSAR
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The first group of former Afghan interpreters whose lives are in danger because they worked for the British military are due to arrive in the UK under a new government scheme, reports say.

An aircraft reportedly carrying more than a dozen Afghans who were employed by UK forces, as well as family members, is expected to land at an airport in the Midlands later on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the flight because of security concerns for the men, women and children who have asked to flee Afghanistan after threats from the Taliban.

Taliban militants are growing in strength across the country, regaining more territory from the Afghan government.

British, US and other Nato forces are preparing to withdraw over the next three months after almost 20 years of conflict.

The Taliban considers those associated with the US and Nato-led mission in Afghanistan to be traitors.

The increased influence of the militant group means greater risk for such personnel.

Concerns over the safety of former staff, most of them interpreters, prompted the ministry and the Home Office in May to expand the eligibility criteria of a relocation scheme for Afghans seeking to flee.

Earlier, the government resisted pressure to allow large numbers of men and women to relocate, saying such a move would deprive Afghanistan of a talented pool of young people who would be crucial for the country's future prosperity.

More than 3,000 Afghans are expected to accept the offer, along with about 1,300 who have already made the journey under a previous, more restrictive policy. They are expected to be flown to the UK in groups.

It is understood that the first flight left Kabul earlier on Tuesday. Everyone had to undergo stringent security and coronavirus-related health checks.

Afghanistan is on the red list of countries, which means the group will be put into quarantine on their arrival in the UK.

The Daily Mail spoke to a former interpreter called Hash, 37, who served in Helmand with the army between 2007 and 2012.

He is reported to be in the first party along with his wife and two sons.

"We are so happy and so thankful," Hash was quoted as saying. "The British government has taken its time but it has done the right thing and we are truly grateful."