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UK govt confirms accelerated plan to relocate Afghan translators

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2021)

The UK government officially announced Tuesday that local staff who worked for the UK government in Afghanistan, including translators, will be eligible for expedited relocation to the UK under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP).

“Local staff who worked for the UK Government in Afghanistan, including many who worked as interpreters for UK forces in the country, will be eligible for expedited relocation to the UK under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP),” the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel announced Tuesday in a statement.

Wallace said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to our interpreters and other locally employed staff who risked their lives working alongside UK forces in Afghanistan.

“We have always made clear that nobody’s life should be put at risk because they supported the UK Government to promote peace and stability 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.

“The Home Secretary and I are going to do everything to make sure we recognise their services and bring them to safety. It is the right thing to do,” he said.

The ARAP scheme came into effect on 1 April 2021 and offers the relocation of current and former local staff in Afghanistan, including interpreters and their immediate families.

Wallace said this new scheme acknowledges and reflects that the situation in Afghanistan has changed, and with it the potential risk to the local staff who have worked for the UK Government over the past twenty years.

Patel in turn said: “I’m proud to say that the UK is fulfilling its promise to those Afghan interpreters and other locally employed staff who have worked tirelessly alongside our Armed Forces.

“It is our moral obligation to recognise the risks they have faced in the fight against terrorism and reward their efforts. I’m pleased that we are meeting this fully, by providing them and their families the opportunity to build a new life in this country.

“A new intimidation scheme administered by a specialist team based in Kabul has been set up to administer the ARAP and support local staff who are threatened as a result of their work with the UK.

According to her, under the new policy, any current or former locally employed staff who are assessed to be under serious threat to life are offered priority relocation to the UK regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served.

She also said the Ministry of Defense will work with a range of UK government partners, including the Home Office to successfully relocate those who meet the eligibility requirements and support them to integrate and build a new life in the UK.

“By accelerating the ARAP for those staff still in Afghanistan, the government is meeting its moral obligation to ensure their continued safety, she said.

The UK government has already supported the relocation of more than 1,360 former Afghan staff and their families, enabling them to create new lives in the UK.

No confirmed figures were released by the UK government Tuesday but earlier reports indicated about 3,000 people, including family members, could be resettled in the UK.

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Czechs approve program to help Afghan translators

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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

The Czech government on Friday approved a program of help for Afghans who worked with Czech troops during their deployment in NATO missions, AP reported.

Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar said the help meant for Afghan interpreters and their families includes their relocation, an offer of asylum and financial aid.

Metnar said the goal of the program is to ensure safe and decent living conditions for them after NATO troops pull out of Afghanistan, AP reported.

The government’s move came days after the Czech veterans, current service members, human rights organizations and others urged the government to help resettle the Afghans because of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, AP reported.

President Milos Zeman asked his government on Thursday to approve the program without any delay because of fears that Afghans who worked with the Czech military could be killed by the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry declined to provide further details about the program, which is classified in order to protect its recipients, AP reported.

The number of Afghans wasn’t given.

The last Czech service members pulled out from Afghanistan in June.

Since 2002, a total of 11,500 Czech soldiers were deployed in Afghanistan, AP reported.

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UN office attacked in Herat, at least one guard killed

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(Last Updated On: July 30, 2021)

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Friday that its main compound in western Herat province was attacked by “anti-government elements,” killing at least guard and other officers injured.

In a statement issued on Friday, UNAMA condemned in the “strongest terms” today’s attack.

“The area around Herat where the compound is located witnessed fighting today between the Taliban and government forces,” the statement read. 

The UN added that it is urgently seeking to establish a full picture of the attack and for this purpose is in contact with the relevant parties.

“This attack against the United Nations is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said Deborah Lyons, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. 

“Our first thoughts are with the family of the officer slain and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured,” Lyons stated.

 According to the statement, no UN personnel was hurt in the incident, in which entrances were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire.

“The perpetrators of this attack must be identified and brought to account,” said Lyons.

 “Attacks against civilian UN personnel and compounds are prohibited under international law, and may amount to war crimes,” the UN noted.

Immediately, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sources, however, told Ariana News that at least six people – including two security guards of UNAMA, three policemen, and a member of the public uprising forces – were killed and 19 others were wounded in clashes with the Taliban militants in the Guzara, Anjel and Karokh districts at the outskirts of Herat city on Friday.

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Four killed as wildfires sweep Turkey, villages evacuated

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(Last Updated On: July 30, 2021)

The death toll from wildfires on Turkey‘s southern coast has risen to four and firefighters were battling blazes for a third day on Friday after the evacuation of dozens of villages and some hotels.

More than 70 wildfires have broken out this week in provinces on Turkey‘s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts as well as inland areas, President Tayyip Erdogan said, adding that 14 were still burning.

Planes from Russia and Ukraine helped battle the flames and another from Azerbaijan was joining them. “As of midday, with the arrival of the planes, we are turning in a positive direction,” Erdogan told reporters after Friday prayers.

Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said fires raged on in six provinces and officials promised to bring to account anyone found responsible for starting them.

Villages and some hotels have been evacuated in tourist areas and television footage has shown people fleeing across fields as fires closed in on their homes.

Pakdemirli said fires were still blazing in the Mediterranean resort region of Antalya and the Aegean resort province of Mugla.

“We were hoping to contain some of the fires as of this morning but while we say cautiously that they are improving, we still cannot say they are under control,” he said.

Wildfires have broken out elsewhere in the region, with more than 40 in Greece in the last 24 hours, fanned by winds and soaring temperatures, authorities said. On Tuesday, a blaze tore through a pine forest north of Athens, damaging more than a dozen homes before it was brought under control.

Fires also burned large swathes of pine forest in the mountainous north of Lebanon this week, killing at least one firefighter and forcing some residents to flee.

In Turkey, firefighters on the ground and in helicopters were fighting a blaze that killed three people in Manavgat, 75 km (45 miles) east of Antalya. Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum said 27 neighbourhoods were evacuated there.

One person was found dead on Thursday in Mugla’s Marmaris area, 290 km west of Manavgat. The blaze continued in Marmaris but residential areas were not at risk, Pakdemirli said.

Erdogan said at least five planes, 45 helicopters, drones, and 1,080 firefighting vehicles were involved in firefighting efforts at 1,140 sites.

Istanbul governor’s office banned entry to forest areas until the end of August as a precaution against fires.

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