Chi has today released the following statement on the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on constituents in Newcastle Central:
Statement on the situation in Afghanistan
I know I am not alone in being deeply upset and shocked by the events in Afghanistan. My thoughts and condolences are with those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks outside the airport in Kabul yesterday.
Yesterday, I wrote to all the constituents who have contacted my office, to express my dismay at the attack and to explain, as best I could, what the end of the UK evacuation process would mean for them and their families. I am very grateful to the troops and embassy staff on the ground for all their hard work and bravery. Thanks to them, I have been able to help some constituents and their families obtain safe passage out of Afghanistan, mainly those who had British passport holders in their party. But for the vast majority of the people who contacted me, I have had to explain that there is now very little chance of evacuation, and even worse, no clear plan of what options there are for their families in the coming weeks and months.
It is clear to anyone who has been involved in this crisis that the Government should have been much better prepared for the consequences of military withdrawal. It is now the case that many who worked for the British in Afghanistan face reprisals, with thousands who qualify for the ARAP scheme left behind. Former Afghan government officials, NGO workers, women and minority groups as well as many others face persecution. There remain significant numbers of Afghans to whom the UK has a responsibility and yet we have yet to see any details on the Afghan Citizens Resettlement scheme, which has a cap of 5000 Afghan refugees per year, a number we know to be insufficient and which means there is little hope for so many. The Home Secretary has asked people to sit around and wait for ‘safe routes’ but gives no details on what they may be.
The government must do more to help those who need to leave Afghanistan, and we must not see the same lack of planning when it comes to supporting Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in this country. We must also work with UN partners to provide coordinated aid. The government would do well to follow the example of people in Newcastle. I am proud to see the response in my constituency, many have written to me to say how they will welcome Afghan refugees and different organisations like St Vincent’s, International Newcastle, the West End Refugee Service are fundraising to support Afghan refugees. We need to do all we can to provide real sanctuary for those who arrive in the coming weeks and months.
My office will continue take up and pursue constituent cases and I will continue to demand more from the government in this time of crisis. The Prime Minister needs to set out how it is the UK will secure safe passage for those under threat in Afghanistan. We need to have a proper process for resettling those under threat and the families of our constituents, not a phone number that doesn’t have anyone at the end of it.
My team have been working all hours of the day and night to help constituents in very distressing circumstances, I want to thank them and the British forces and staff on the ground for their heroic efforts over the last few weeks. I want to see government ministers show the same strength of character.