Gurkha veterans allowed to stay in Britain

May 21, 2009 at 11:31 PM
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LONDON, May 21 (UPI) -- The British government said Thursday about 40,000 Gurkha veterans of the British army can settle in Britain, ending their long campaign to win that right.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government, under much public and political, consented Thursday to grant the privilege to the Nepalese fighters, widely admired for their devotion, bravery and loyalty to the British military for two centuries, the Voice of America reported.

The decision will allow the veteran Gurkhas who had left Britain to move back. It was not known how many may actually do so, but some reports said up to 15,000 may return in the next two years.

"All former Gurkhas who retired before 1997 and who have served more than four years will now be eligible to apply for settlement in the U.K.," British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told the lower house of Parliament.

Smith said she was proud "to be able to offer this country's welcome to all who have served in the brigade of Gurkhas and who wish to settle here," VOA reported.

British actress Joanna Lumley, who led the campaign of the Gurkhas, who had served with her father, said she received support from all across the world. "Everybody has wanted to support the Gurkhas and to allow them into this country," she said.

"Three cheers for Gordon Brown! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Thank you very much," the Gurkhas cheered.

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