The UK government has announced that it will re-examine the cases of former Afghan special forces who served with the British but were denied relocation to the UK. The decision comes after Armed Forces Minister James Heappey stated that ineligible applications with credible claims of links to Afghan specialist units would be reassessed. These units, known as “Triples,” were elite groups established, funded, and managed by the UK. However, hundreds of their relocation claims were rejected following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021.
The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), launched in April 2021, was designed for Afghan citizens who worked in significant roles for or with the UK government. Despite this, many former members of the Triples who had fled to Pakistan faced deportation, and many of the character references provided by British soldiers were not pursued.
Heappey stated that a review had found inconsistencies in the application of ARAP criteria and promised necessary steps to rectify this. A new, independent team within the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will conduct the reassessments. He acknowledged the UK’s debt of gratitude to these individuals who served with or alongside British forces in Afghanistan.
Despite the government’s announcement, supporters of the Triples have raised questions about the speed at which those deemed eligible will be relocated and why it took so long for the government to change a policy they describe as a “shameful betrayal”.