Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Betraying Iraqis

It's what our government does best.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has just released a statement about help for Iraqis who have worked with British troops and who are therefore at risk. It says:

The assistance announced by the Prime Minister yesterday will allow Iraqi staff, including but not limited to interpreters, currently working1 for HMG in Iraq, who have attained 12 months’ or more continuous service, to apply for a one-off package of financial assistance of between 6 and 12 months’ salary, depending on length of service, to meet the costs of relocation for themselves and their dependants in Iraq or the region, if they are made redundant or have to resign from their job because of what we judge to be exceptional circumstances. Alternatively, these staff will be able to apply for exceptional leave to enter the UK, or to avail themselves of the opportunity for resettlement in the UK through the UK’s Gateway refugee resettlement programme, provided that they meet the criteria for the programme, including that they satisfy UNHCR that they meet the criteria of the 1951 Convention and need resettlement.
Iraqis who have worked for less than 12 months will not be helped, though they are at risk just as much as those with longer terms of employment.

There's no excuse for this. The Iraqis have helped our troops and we have a duty to help them. But the ugly reality of politics is such that this will draw the sting from protests. The government will be able to say they have helped.

Please let your MP know this isn't good enough.

UPDATE: Tim points out that this may be no more than a statement of the existing entitlements of the Iraqis. The references to "Gateway" above refer to a programme for the resettlement of asylum seekers, so at least in part this translates as "those eligible for asylum already are eligible for asylum".

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