The UK Government will be forever grateful for the vital support that our locally employed Afghan civilians provided to the UK and NATO allied troops. Some of them made the ultimate sacrifice, while on operations alongside our forces.
Their efforts were distinct and pivotal to Afghanistan’s efforts to form a more secure, stable and prosperous future. These individuals were willing to commit to a more positive vision for their country, alongside thousands of their countrymen and women in the Afghan National Security Forces. I saw the same spirit of commitment to the future of Afghanistan when I visited in June and met the most recent graduates of the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, including the first female graduates.
All of these brave people deserve our deep respect. Recognising our connection to Afghans who worked directly with the Ministry of Defence, we have put in place a package of legal and fair policies for the brave men and women who worked with us for a significant time, and who were made redundant due to the drawdown of British Forces in Afghanistan.
These policies were designed in consultation with other ISAF allies and the Afghan Government to ensure that we recognised the efforts of our local staff, while enabling them to continue to contribute to a brighter future for them and their families in Afghanistan. Indeed, the Afghan Government was keen to see these locally employed staff staying in the country to contribute to its future.
For those who are eligible, the UK Government’s financial offer to locally employed civilians includes a generous redundancy package which offers 18 months salary or training with financial support. For those who fulfil additional eligibility criteria, such as staff who were regularly involved in working on the frontline (largely interpreters), there is an option to apply for relocation to the UK along with their families. To date, over 150 locally engaged civilians (a total of 330 people including their families) have been relocated to the UK.
The safety of current and former local staff members remains a key concern of the UK Government, which is why we continue to provide support through our expert team based in Afghanistan. People who may have been threatened because of their work with us can speak to this team, which investigates thoroughly all claims of intimidation. When necessary we will put in place appropriate measures to mitigate any risks. These range from providing specific security advice, assistance to relocate the staff member and their family to a safe place in Afghanistan, or, in the most extreme cases, relocation to the UK. To date, the team has provided in-country support to more than 200 former staff. This intimidation policy runs in parallel to the redundancy scheme and applies to all Afghans who worked with us there.
Our policy towards interpreters enables our local employees to continue to contribute positively to the future of their country, rewards those who worked for us in the most challenging roles, and takes all reasonable steps to ensure that our former employees are safe from any danger caused by their employment with us. I have met many locally employed staff when visiting our forces. I have always been deeply impressed by their courage and their commitment to the future of Afghanistan.