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UK to speed up relocation of Afghan nationals who worked with British troops

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By Euronews
British soldiers with NATO-led Resolute Support Mission forces arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 25, 2020.
British soldiers with NATO-led Resolute Support Mission forces arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 25, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Rahmat Gul
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Afghan staff who worked with the British military will be offered relocation to the UK, the government announced on Monday.

More than 1,300 Afghan nationals and their families have already been relocated to the UK under a previous scheme that closed in 2016.

The new scheme announced on Monday is expected to facilitate the relocation of thousands more.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement that the country "owe a debt of to our interpreters and other locally employed staff who risked their lives working alongside UK forces in Afghanistan."

"As we withdraw our Armed Forces, it is only right we accelerate the relocation of those who may be at risk of reprisals," he added.

The UK has set up an intimidation scheme in Kabul to support local staff threatened as a result of their work with the UK.

Under the new policy, any current or former locally employed staff assessed to be under serious threat of life is to be offered priority relocation to the UK regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served, the Defense Ministry said.

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

NATO allies involved in Afghanistan, including the UK, started withdrawing troops earlier this month. Washington has aimed for all of its troops to have left by September 11 — the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.