The Sunday Telegraph

Afghans who helped British must not be sent to Rwanda


THE military’s top brass are demanding an exemption from the Rwanda scheme for Afghans who served with British Armed Forces.

Three former chiefs of the defence staff as well as a former chief of the general staff and a former chief of the naval staff have warned the Prime Minister that failure to do this would be a “derelictio­n of our moral duty”.

Rishi Sunak’s Safety of Rwanda Bill, which will send some asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda to have their claims processed, returns to the Commons tomorrow after a series of defeats in the Lords.

After a further round of parliament­ary ping-pong between MPs and peers, it could pass by the end of this week, paving the way for the first flights.

In a letter to The Telegraph, the group of 13 senior military figures warn that “any brave men and women who have fought alongside our armed forces or served the UK Government overseas” must be exempt from removal to Rwanda. They warn that if this is not granted, it will do “grave damage to our ability to recruit local allies in future military operations”.

They explain that they have “seen first-hand the enormous courage and dedication shown by those who have fought alongside our Armed Forces and served British interests abroad, often at huge personal risk, and we take personally Britain’s obligation to honour the debt we owe to that cohort”.

The letter has been signed by Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Craig of Radley, Gen Lord Richards of Herstmonce­ux and Gen Lord Houghton of Richmond – all of whom are former chiefs of the defence staff.

It also counts Lord Robertson, former secretary general of Nato, and Gen Sir John McColl, former deputy supreme allied commander Europe, among its signatorie­s.

The letter attacks the Government over its handling of the Afghan Relocation­s and Assistance Policy – the Arap scheme – which it says has been “mired by mismanagem­ent” since its launch in April 2021. The scheme supports Afghans and their families who worked for, or with, the UK government and Armed Forces in Afghanista­n.

The letter urges Mr Sunak to accept an amendment tabled to the Bill by Lord Browne, a former defence secretary, which would see “agents, allies and employees” of the UK overseas exempt from being sent to Rwanda. A government spokesman said that the Arap scheme is “one of the most generous of any country”.

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