The dire situation in Afghanistan – governmental and individual action is needed

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Earlier this Autumn, I had the privilege of talking with three women who had been trying to bring awareness to the dire situation developing in Afghanistan. Sitting outside the Palace of Westminster day after day, these dedicated women were not only inviting people to discuss the NATO withdrawal, but were also participating in a hunger strike to demonstrate their disdain towards the new Taliban regime. Since our initial meeting, I have met with these women multiple times, and I have begun to understand more deeply the feelings held by those in Afghanistan.

Afghan people are scared, the women tell me, and contrary to some of the headlines recently, they are not in support of the repressive and fundamentalist Taliban regime. In fact, they argue, many are publicly declaring support for the regime simply to protect their families, without privately subscribing to the beliefs of the new leadership. Inside their homes, people are continuing to educate their daughters, read books that are now banned, and give and receive obstetric care. These risks are taken to prevent the backslide of societal progress, with my Afghan guests telling me that when the Taliban took over, “20 years of progress was washed away overnight.”

The fears and harrowing stories relayed by these women are not isolated, however. The UN is reporting that 22.8 million people are currently food insecure, with 3 million children suffering from acute malnutrition. Dozens of news reports describe the crisis developing as the country enters winter; with fuel prices up 75% and hundreds of thousands of people without homes, the prognosis is nothing if not bleak.

The Government has pledged £286 million towards Afghan aid this year, but that won’t be enough to stave off starvation and a developing refugee crisis in neighboring countries. Furthermore, the government has yet to open the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme, designed to bring over vulnerable people such as women and members of the LGBT+ community. While delivering aid and resources without directly financing the Taliban is a difficult task, these delays in action will have a massive cost in human lives.

We need this government to take further action to prevent an historic humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. More aid is desperately needed, and the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme needs to open. However, we can act individually. If you have the ability to give this winter, consider donating to the UN World Food Programme, where £7.50 could help feed 19 hungry people.

Lord Roger Roberts wrote this with assistance from Jennifer Schwartz.

* Lord Roberts of Llandudno is a Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords

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  • John Marriott 24th Nov '21 - 8:22am

    Yes, my Lord, it’s a tough situation. You can thank Trump for pulling the plug. My sympathy is also with those brave soldiers who lost their lives or who received lif changing injuries, whose relatives must be wondering whether it was all worth it.

    As for the Taliban, perhaps yet again they will come to realise that trying to govern with one hand tied behind your back ain’t easy. Perhaps again as before they might be inclined to hand back the keys. The only trouble is what kind of a mess they will be leaving behind.

    God in his various forms has much to answer for.

  • katerina porter 24th Nov '21 - 12:03pm

    The government does not seem to do anything………

  • Peter Hirst 28th Nov '21 - 2:35pm

    We need to use all available options to help the people of Afghanistan. The sooner the Taliban realise that they must accept direct help to their people the better. Without this aid they are in for a dire winter.

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