Photo of David Miliband

David Miliband (Foreign Secretary; South Shields, Labour)

In my statement of 9 October, I outlined details of ex gratia assistance to be provided to Iraqi staff working for our armed forces and civilian missions in Iraq. This statement gives further details of the categories of staff who will be eligible to apply, the assistance which will be offered, and the procedures for applying.

In designing this policy, interested Departments have taken into account a number of factors. As I made clear in my statement of 9 October, we owe our Iraqi staff an enormous debt of gratitude for their dedicated service. HMG has directly employed many thousands of Iraqis since 2003 and has had indirect employment relationships with many more. Both fairness and realism demand that we focus on that sub-set of staff who have had the closest and most sustained association with us, in circumstances which we judge to be uniquely difficult. We have therefore established clear and transparent eligibility criteria which are, as far as possible, objective in nature.

In addition, the operational effectiveness of our armed forces and civilian missions, which depends in large part on the continued contribution of our Iraqi staff, must continue to be paramount. We need to preserve our ability to recruit and retain qualified Iraqi staff as we continue to discharge the obligations and responsibilities set out in the Prime Minister's statement of 8 October. Both the overall policy, and the design of the scheme in respect of serving staff, have been decided with this in mind.

Finally, we have taken into account the need to ensure that any assistance scheme, in particular in respect of admission to or resettlement in the UK, is practical, realistic and preserves the integrity of wider immigration and asylum policy. For these reasons, we have sought to ensure that admission to the UK is managed as far as possible in line with existing processes and programmes.

The assistance detailed in this statement is offered ex gratia and goes above and beyond the confines of what is lawfully or contractually required. It does not recognise an obligation, or imply a commitment, to assist locally-employed staff in other countries or theatres of operation, past, present or future. It reflects our judgement that the circumstances in which Iraqi locally-employed staff have served have been uniquely difficult.

Categories of staff

Assistance will be offered to Iraqi nationals who meet the eligibility criteria set out below and who work, or have worked, in Iraq in the following capacities:

as direct employees of the UK Armed Forces or the Ministry of Defence;

on Letters of Appointment from the British Embassy in Baghdad or the British Embassy Offices in Basra and the Kurdistan Region;

as direct employees of DFID or the British Council;

and to contracted staff who work or have worked in Iraq in the following capacities, provided that such staff worked in particularly close association with the UK as an integral and visible part of HMG operations, including having regular, substantial and sustained contact with UK official personnel and regular, substantial and sustained attendance at UK official sites:

under the direct authority of the head of the Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team;

for the British civilian police mission, or for international contractors engaged by HMG to carry out police training programmes; or

for DFID's Centre of Government, Ministry of Interior Capacity Building, Civil Society, Economic Reform, Infrastructure Services or Governorate Capacity Building Programmes.

Eligibility criteria for serving staff

Staff who are currently serving in these categories, or who were doing so on or after 8 August 2007, will be eligible to apply for assistance provided that:

they have attained 12 months' or more continuous service. (In this context, continuous does not refer to service in a single job or capacity. Iraqi staff who have moved between the different categories outlined above will be eligible provided that there was no break in service between moving between different categories and total length of service is 12 months or more); and

that they are (or were) redundant by their employer or that they are (or were) forced to resign their positions because of what we judge to be exceptional circumstances. Decisions on whether a resignation has taken place in exceptional circumstances will be made by representatives of employing Departments on the ground. Staff who are dismissed for misconduct will not be eligible for assistance.

Forms of assistance for serving staff

Staff in the prescribed categories who meet these criteria will be able to apply for one of the following three forms of assistance:

a one-off package of financial assistance. Eligible staff who choose this option will receive a payment equivalent to one month's salary for every two months that they were employed, up to a maximum payment of 12 months' salary. In addition, they will be able to claim 10 per cent. of the total sum for each dependant as defined below, up to a maximum of five dependants. Under this formula, the maximum payment would be 18 months' salary, and the minimum six months; or

Exceptional leave, outside the Immigration Rules. Iraqi staff and their dependants whose applications are successful will be granted entry clearance which will on arrival confer Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK, with no subsequent review. Staff eligible for this scheme will be referred directly by employing Departments. No applications for exceptional leave will be accepted unless directly referred by employing Departments. Assistance with transport to the UK will be provided for staff and dependants who receive leave to enter. On arrival in the UK, staff and dependants will be provided with a reception and integration package designed to establish them in accommodation and to provide them with advice on employment; or

the opportunity of resettlement in the UK through the UK's Gateway refugee resettlement programme. Provision has been made within the global Gateway programme for a significant number of places for Iraqi refugees in third countries, who are in need of resettlement, to be resettled to the UK. These places will include up to 600 places for staff and dependants who meet the criteria. Staff and their dependants wishing to avail themselves of this opportunity would need qualify as refugees under the 1951 Convention in a third country, and to meet the published criteria for Gateway resettlement. A package of financial assistance will be provided to those who are considered for resettlement under Gateway in order to allow them to support themselves during the screening process in a third country. Resettlement in the UK under the Gateway programme includes a full reception and social integration package.

Procedures for serving staff wishing to apply

In the first instance, serving staff who meet the criteria and who wish to apply upon being served with notice of redundancy or upon being forced to resign their job in extraordinary circumstances should contact their UK-based manager or supervisor.

Staff who have left our employ since 8 August 2007 may apply either to their former UK-based manager or supervisor, or follow the procedures set out for former staff. No applications for exceptional leave will be accepted unless directly referred by employing Departments. Staff outside of Iraq wishing to avail themselves of the opportunity for resettlement via the Gateway programme should also approach UNHCR.

Eligibility criteria for former staff

Staff who formerly worked for HMG in the capacities set out above will be able to apply for assistance provided that they fulfil all of the following criteria:

they worked as interpreters/translators, or in similarly skilled or professional roles necessitating the regular use of written or spoken English; and

they satisfactorily completed a minimum of 12 months' service (in this context, satisfactory means that they were not dismissed for misconduct or similar reasons); and

they were in our employ on or after 1 January 2005 (but before 8 August 2007).

We may review these criteria for former staff in the light of experience.

Forms of assistance for former staff

Former staff who meet the above criteria will be able either to apply for a one-off package of financial assistance, as set out above; or to avail themselves of the opportunity for resettlement in the UK, together with their dependants, via the Gateway refugee resettlement programme as set out above. Having taken one package they will not be eligible to apply for other forms of assistance.

Details of telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for former staff who meet the above criteria and wish to apply for assistance will be released during the course of this week through a variety of means, including employing Departments' websites and the local media.

Dependants

For the purposes of this scheme, the following will be automatically considered as dependants:

spouse or civil partner;

children under the age of 18 who are not leading independent lives (that is, are unmarried or not civil partners, or have not formed an independent family unit);

mother or grandmother who is a widow aged 65 years or over;

father or grandfather who is a widower aged 65 years or over;

parents or grandparents travelling together of whom at least one is aged 65 or over.

In addition, relatives who fit the categories below, who are also wholly or mainly dependent financially on the principal applicant, and have no other close relatives in their own country to whom they could turn for financial support, may be considered for inclusion on a case-by-case basis:

parent or grandparent under the age of 65 if they would be left living alone in Iraq in the most exceptional compassionate circumstances;

son, daughter, sister, brother, uncle or aunt over the age of 18 if they would be left living alone in Iraq in the most exceptional compassionate circumstances.

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