The situation in Afghanistan is absolutely shocking and worsening by the hour.
There has clearly been a catastrophic miscalculation of the capacity and legitimacy of the Afghan Government and the resilience of Afghan forces.
For a decade, British soldiers, diplomats, and NGO workers with coalition and Afghan partners have worked tirelessly in an attempt to bring stability to the country. In just a handful of days, we have seen this work tragically undermined and rolled back. There are now very serious questions to answer about the failed political and development strategy of the last ten years.
Now, my thoughts are with the Afghan people who are the victims of this current crisis and who have been suffering from instability and chaos within the country for over forty years now. Our immediate priority now must be to accelerate efforts to evacuate the thousands of UK nationals and eligible Afghans out of the country.
The British Government has been far too slow to provide sanctuary to those Afghans who served alongside and supported the British presence in Afghanistan. This is a shameful dereliction of duty. Even now, there are reports of Afghans facing unacceptable bureaucratic hurdles and the Foreign Office suspending scholarships for young Afghans.
In light of the ongoing situation, it is only right that the UK’s refugee resettlement scheme be urgently expanded to ensure those seeking sanctuary and safety to whom we owe a huge debt are not abandoned in their time of need.
I am in no doubt that the Taliban’s return to Afghanistan will lead to a significant refugee crisis and the UK Government must ensure we play our part in helping those fleeing the country. Now is the time for the Government to open safe and legal asylum routes and support those Afghan’s fleeing to neighbouring states.
It is imperative that the British Government immediately consult with our allies in NATO and key countries in the region about the implications of the collapse of the Afghan Government. There must now be a coordinated multilateral approach from the international community and the major players within the region to the volatile situation on the ground, and a strategy to try and protect the gains made in the last 20 years on human rights.
There is a real risk of a full-scale humanitarian disaster, particularly for women and girls in the country. The UK must show it is taking immediate steps to ensure aid can reach those in need and prevent the crisis from escalating.
While circumstance means I am unable to personally participate in the debate on Wednesday, I will continue to follow the developing situation in Afghanistan closely and make my position clear.
How can you help?
As the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated, charities and aid organisations have ramped up their work providing immediate help to the people of Afghanistan. Below is a list of charities and organisations that are accepting donations for this critical work. Please consider donating if you can.