Statement on developing situation in Afghanistan

The situation is shocking. There has been a major miscalculation of the resilience of the Afghan forces in regard to the Taliban threat. We now face the tragic rollback of the gains that UK soldiers, diplomats and NGO workers, and their coalition and Afghan partners, worked so hard for.  I am worried about the human rights abuses by the Taliban including against women and children. The strides that have been made for gender equality over the past 20 years are all set to be undone.  There is a global war on women that must end. Britain has an obligation to Afghan women and girls.

 We share responsibility for the disaster unfolding in Afghanistan and must never again wage wars doomed to cause this level of misery and death.  The priority now must be for the UK Government to provide vulnerable Afghans with safe routes to escape. We must especially help women and children and religious minorities who are in the most danger.  The Taliban’s return is likely to lead to a refugee crisis. I am doing everything I can as MP for Brent Central to help those in need, including those who fear for their families in Afghanistan.  As you will have heard, the Government has announced a new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). This will we resettle Afghan nationals who have been forced to flee their home or face threats of persecution from the Taliban. However, the Government has said that this will take a total of 20,000 Afghan nationals “in the long term”, with 5,000 expected to be resettled within a year. I believe this does not meet the scale of the challenge. For those who desperately need our help now, there is no long term.  The resettlement scheme must be generous and welcoming. If it is not, we know the consequences: violent reprisals in Afghanistan; people fleeing into the arms of human traffickers; and more people risking and losing their lives on unsafe journeys including across the English Channel. Global leaders should agree on a coordinated humanitarian response, collective help for refugees and work to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers and diplomats remaining in Afghanistan while doing all possible to support the human rights of the people of Afghanistan.  The Government should also consult with our allies in NATO and key countries in the region about the implications of the collapse of the Afghan Government. There needs to be a coordinated approach from the international community to the changing situation on the ground, and a strategy to try to protect the gains made in the last 20 years on human rights, girls’ education and counterterrorism.  My thoughts are with vulnerable Afghan people at this time. I will continue to follow developments in Afghanistan, and the Government’s response, closely.