Afghanistan

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 8th December 2014.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what financial and logistical support has been provided to Afghan nationals who have provided contract translation services to UK military and medical auxiliary personnel since 2001 but are no longer in the employ of the armed forces of British authorities in Afghanistan; and what assistance is provided to assist such translators in applying for political asylum in the UK in circumstances where they face death threats in Afghanistan.

Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Holding answer received on 05 December 2014

We recognise the dangerous work undertaken by our patrol interpreters in the course of their employment and, for those who were still serving when drawdown of the operation was announced, this is reflected in the terms of the ex-gratia redundancy scheme. The scheme is additional to the contractual redundancy entitlement and provides a generous in-country package of training and financial support for up to five years; or, a financial payment equivalent to 18 months' salary; or, for those who fulfil additional eligibility criteria by working on the frontline in Helmand (largely interpreters), the opportunity to apply for relocation to the UK.

This meets the Afghan Government's concern that we should support the country's development and avoid precipitating a 'brain-drain'. But it also recognises the debt we owe to these people.

We take the safety of current and former local staff very seriously, and they are encouraged to raise with us any concerns about their safety arising from their employment. Such concerns are thoroughly investigated by a professional team on the ground in Afghanistan, and are addressed under our Intimidation Policy.

The majority of cases of intimidation are addressed through in-country measures, for example, by providing security advice or in some cases relocation within Afghanistan. In the most extreme cases, the policy provides for relocation of the member of staff and their immediate family to the UK. This is through a bespoke immigration mechanism, separate from UK asylum arrangements.

The monitoring of staff who have left our employment indicates that they currently face a low risk to their safety as a result of their employment with the UK, and that this further recedes over time.

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