12 May 2023

Guy Ritchie slams UK handling of Afghan veterans as ‘morally reprehensible’

12 May 2023

Filmmaker Guy Ritchie has described the denial of safe passage to the UK for some Afghans who served alongside British forces as “morally reprehensible”.

The 54-year-old Hollywood director is supporting a campaign by The Independent to prevent the deportation of an Afghan pilot who helped Western forces fight the Taliban.

The air force lieutenant, whose identity is protected, flew 30 combat missions against the Taliban, but was forced into hiding after the final withdrawal of Nato troops in August 2021.

He said he came to the UK on a small boat due to a lack of legal routes, and is now being threatened with exile to Rwanda.

Ritchie, whose 2023 action thriller, The Covenant, tells a similar story of a local interpreter left behind in Afghanistan by the US military, has criticised the UK’s handling of refugees from the wartorn nation.

He told The Independent: “During the course of the Afghanistan conflict, thousands of local Afghans exposed themselves to significant risk by supporting British, American and other Nato forces.

“Some worked as interpreters, while others fought alongside these forces.

“They did this based on an understanding that they would be offered visas and protection – and this promise must be honoured.

“It is morally reprehensible that those who worked loyally for us and alongside us have found their safe passage to a future has been blocked.”

Released in April, The Covenant stars Dar Salim as the Afghan interpreter and Jake Gyllenhaal as an American sergeant.

The Home Office said it is relocating Afghan citizens who worked for the UK Government in “exposed or meaningful roles” via the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: “We owe a debt of gratitude to those interpreters and other staff eligible under the ARAP scheme who worked for, or with, UK forces in Afghanistan.

“That’s why we have committed to relocating all eligible Afghans and their families to the UK under the ARAP scheme – a commitment we will honour.

“Our absolute priority is supporting the movement of eligible people out of Afghanistan and to date, we have relocated over 12,200 individuals to the UK under ARAP”.

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