Hundreds more Afghan interpreters allowed to relocate in Britain

UK warns their lives are in danger as troops withdraw

British soldiers walk with their gear after arriving in Kandahar on October 27, 2014, as British and US forces withdraw from the Camp Bastion-Leatherneck complex in Helmand province. British forces October 26 handed over formal control of their last base in Afghanistan to Afghan forces, ending combat operations in the country after 13 years which cost hundreds of lives. The Union Jack was lowered at Camp Bastion in the southern province of Helmand, while the Stars and Stripes came down at the adjacent Camp Leatherneck -- the last US Marine base in the country. AFP PHOTO/WAKIL KOHSAR (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP)
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Hundreds of Afghans who worked for the British Army as interpreters will be allowed to relocate to the UK amid fears for their safety.

Including family members, more than 3,000 Afghans are expected to resettle in Britain, joining 1,300 who have already done so.

The decision comes as international troops begin withdrawing from the country, which former soldiers say could trigger the resurgence of the Taliban.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said lives would be in danger after the withdrawal was complete.

“With Western powers leaving Afghanistan, the threat is increasing and has increased, including targeted attacks by the Taliban,” he said.

"This is allowing people a route to the UK for safety, the people who supported the British armed forces and the British government over many, many years in Afghanistan who feel they are in danger. It's absolutely right that we stand by those people."

The interpreters have been at risk of reprisals since UK forces ended combat operations in Helmand in 2014.

Troops who served there were among the most vocal in their support for measures to protect those who assisted them during their deployment.

Hundreds of interpreters have already settled in the UK under earlier versions of the resettlement scheme.

However, strict criteria attached to the programme – including length of service and rank – prevented many from relocating to the UK.

Under a new policy, current or former staff who are assessed to be under serious threat to life will be offered priority relocation to the UK.

"It's our moral obligation to recognise the risks they faced in the fight against terrorism and reward their efforts," Home Secretary Priti Patel said.

"I'm pleased that we are meeting this fully, by providing them and their families the opportunity to build a new life in this country."