Johnny Mercer, the UK’s Veterans’ Affairs Minister, has publicly committed to honoring the UK’s commitments to Afghan soldiers who allied with British forces. This statement comes amid a report by the Daily Mail indicating a potential government U-turn on the issue of sanctuary for these soldiers. Hundreds of members from two elite Afghan units, the Afghan Commando Force 333 and the Afghan Territorial Force 444 – collectively known as the Triples – had been previously denied relocation under the UK’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme. The Daily Mail’s report suggests that at least 400 members of these units will have their cases reviewed, with the majority expected to be granted entry into the UK.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD), however, has not confirmed these speculations. Despite this, the MOD spokesperson stated that the UK has so far brought over 24,600 people to safety from Afghanistan, including more than 15,200 under the ARAP scheme. Meanwhile, Labour MP Luke Pollard has urged the government to provide an update to MPs on the situation, emphasizing the need for clarity regarding the status of these Afghan special forces soldiers. This call for transparency follows previous assurances by Minister Mercer in December, where he insisted that Afghan Special Forces veterans meeting the ARAP criteria should be helped to resettle in the UK to protect them from Taliban persecution.