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Afghanistan: Statement from Stephen Morgan MP

A number of constituents have contacted me with regards to recent events in Afghanistan which, as news reports show, are very distressing and of real concern.

The situation in Afghanistan is shocking and worsening by the hour. It is clear to me that there has been a catastrophic miscalculation of the capacity and legitimacy of the Afghan government and the resilience of Afghan forces which has led to this disaster. 

We now face the tragic rollback of those gains that UK troops, diplomats and charity workers, and their coalition and Afghan partners, have worked so hard for.  Whilst my thoughts are with the Afghan people, ahead of Parliament being recalled I believe there are very serious questions about the failed political and development strategy of the last ten years. 

In the House of Commons on Wednesday we can expect a statement from the Prime Minister, and a response from the Leader of the Opposition. I will be attending Parliament for this important debate.

The priority of the Government must now must be for the Ministers to accelerate efforts to get UK nationals and eligible Afghans out of the country. Labour strongly support the deployment of troops to Kabul to provide security and capacity to do this, and as shadow armed forces minister, I will do what I can to assist with this.

Portsmouth is making preparations to support those who helped UK Forces, and their families, settle here. This is very welcome, and I have spoken with the city council to offer my support with this and ensure our city goes above and beyond to support families in need.

However, I believe government has so far been far too slow to provide sanctuary to those Afghans who have 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, which I have been raising with Ministers and in the media, and the Foreign Office suspending scholarships for young Afghans.

That’s why I am calling for our resettlement scheme to urgently be expanded to ensure people to whom we owe a huge debt are not abandoned. The Taliban’s return is also likely to lead to a refugee crisis. The UK Government must put in place specific safe and legal asylum routes and help support Afghans who are fleeing to neighbouring states. 

Keir Starmer has also said the government must immediately consult with our allies in NATO and key countries in the region about the implications of the collapse of the Afghan government. I agree with this approach. There needs to be a coordinated strategy from the international community to the changing situation on the ground, and a plan to try to protect the gains made in the last 20 years on human rights. 

Some constituents have raised with me the real risk of a humanitarian disaster, particularly for women and girls. It is utterly shameful that the government has slashed development support to the country by 45% just as it faces a grave crisis. The UK must show it is taking immediate steps to ensure aid can reach those in need and prevent a humanitarian crisis. Given the advance of the Taliban and the evacuation of NGO, UN and British staff this is a complex and difficult task, and one which will require a coordinated international effort to achieve. 

The government has been silent as Afghanistan collapses, and this cannot continue which is why I welcome the call to recall Parliament and with urgency.

The government must use this important opportunity to explain to all MPs how it plans to work with allies to avoid a humanitarian crisis and lay out a strategy to prevent Afghanistan becoming once again a safe haven and operational hub for international terrorism that threatens our national security.

Stephen Morgan MP