London, Sep 19 : The Afghan interpreters who risked their lives for British troops in Afghanistan will now be able to relocate to the United Kingdom, following the government's decision to expand the relocation scheme.
Dozens of servicemen and former interpreters have welcomed the move which will pave the way for about 100 translators and their families to settle in the UK.
Under the original scheme launched in 1993, more than 400 translators have already moved to the UK with their families, as per the Ministry of Defence.
Defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said, "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. They did not leave us behind then, and we will not leave them behind now." The changes which were announced on Saturday are going to be introduced next month through secondary legislation.
The Interpreters' Lives Matter campaign group said it was "delighted" by the news, but warned the scheme still "doesn't include everyone".
"You are leaving a large number of them behind at risk and at the mercy of terrorist Taliban," the campaign handle tweeted.
The Ministry of Defence said that Afghan civilians in Helmand Province had often been "the eyes and ears of British forces" between 2006 and 2014.
Their linguistic and cultural expertise "enabled the UK to work hand-in-hand with our Afghan partners and local communities while protecting British troops" in dangerous situations", the Ministry added.
According to a 2018 Common Defence Select Committee report, British forces employed more than 6,500 Afghan civilians, out of whom, about half were translators.
The report also found that the UK has "dismally failed" to protect Afghans translators who risked their lives for the British army and are now at risk from Islamic State and native Taliban.
British Home Secretary, Priti Patel said, "Courageous Afghans worked side by side with our armed forces to defeat terrorism, risking their own lives in the pursuit of peace."