The events taking in place in Afghanistan are both shocking and tragic. I am sure you have all seen the heartbreaking scenes coming live from the region. Thank you to everyone who has been in touch to share concerns. If you have any friends or relatives in the country please contact my office directly and I will do my best to help.
The outlook is bleak for so many, particularly for women and girls who fear for their lives and freedoms. As the Taliban entered Kabul yesterday, women were being erased from public spaces. In crisis and conflict, it is women and girls who suffer most — nowhere more so than in Afghanistan. This is a country that has already suffered decades of turmoil but what is happening now is deeply traumatic and devasting for some many, the repercussions of which will be felt for a long time and across the whole world.
I am glad that the Government heeded our calls for Parliament to be recalled. I went to London last week to speak out on the issues constituents are raising with me and to put pressure on the Government to act swiftly.
The most pressing priority for the government at this stage is to ensure the safety of UK nationals and all Afghan nationals who have served alongside and supported the British presence in Afghanistan. This includes Afghan interpreters and their immediate families who are now at risk of the worst repercussions from the Taliban. They have already put their lives at risk to support our troops, and we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. There are huge flaws in the resettlement scheme for Afghan interpreters and their families, with systemic delays and bureaucratic hurdles meaning that many families have still not been reunited. This must change fast and there must be a fast tracked visa system for all those seeking refuge in our country.
I also know these events will have been very distressing for those who served in Afghanistan and their families. The resurgence of the Taliban is a tragic rollback of the progress made over the last twenty years and in some cases have their lives for. As president of the G7 and members of the security council, the UK Government must now work with international partners and reach out to negotiate with the Taliban to try to prevent this from escalating further.
The very real fears now facing women and girls, religious minorities, and political opponents of the Taliban mean that their future is uncertain. There is also a real risk of a humanitarian disaster, and it is wrong that the government cut development support to the country just as it faced this most grave of crises. The UK Government must show it is taking immediate steps to ensure aid reaches those in need, and it must put in place specific safe and legal asylum routes to help support Afghans who are fleeing to neighbouring states.
We must not turn our backs and risk undermining the hard-fought legacy of the last 20 years, particularly as there is a risk that the country could once again become a safe haven and operational hub for international terrorism which threatens our national security. The people of Afghanistan need us. The international community needs to come together now to meet our moral obligations and to do all we can to turn this tragedy around.