Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy Scheme Update

Ministry of Defence written statement – made am ar 1 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of James Heappey James Heappey Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

I would like to update the House on developments relating to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme and the Ministry of Defence’s progress in processing applications to the scheme from former members of Afghan specialist units.

We owe a debt of gratitude to these brave individuals who served for, with or alongside our Armed Forces in support of the UK mission in Afghanistan. Defence is determined to honour the commitments we have made under the ARAP scheme. That is why we have robust checks in place and regularly review our processes and procedures.

While many former members of Afghan specialist units, including former members of CF333 and ATF444, have been found eligible under ARAP and safely relocated to the UK with their families, a recent review of processes around eligibility decisions demonstrated instances of inconsistent application of ARAP criteria in certain cases.

In light of this, we are taking necessary steps to ensure that the ARAP criteria are applied consistently. As such, I can confirm that the MOD has decided to undertake a reassessment of all eligibility decisions made on ineligible applications with credible claims of links to Afghan specialist units. This reassessment will be done by independent staff within the MOD, who have not previously worked on these applications. They will review each application thoroughly on a case-by-case basis.

ARAP applications from this cohort present a unique set of challenges in assessing their eligibility. It is the case that such units reported directly into the Government of Afghanistan, meaning HMG does not hold employment records or comprehensive information, in the same way that we do for many other applicants.

Understanding the depth of feeling ARAP evokes across this place and beyond, we thank Members for their ongoing advocacy and support for ARAP. We have that same depth of feeling in the MOD and in government, and we will now work quickly to deliver it.