As I write, we are all still coming to terms with the very violent attacks on civilians and armed forces at Kabul Airport last night. It’s been devastating to see events unfold in this way, knowing that people who have lost their lives or been terribly injured were already in awful conditions trying to escape extreme danger.
Although the precise date and time cannot be publicised for security reasons, Ministers have said today that the evacuation process is coming to an end. Anyone who isn’t already at the airport and with the documents should not go there. The processing centre at Baron Hotel has closed.
What happens next?
My team and I are still responding to very many emails from people in Bristol West and people in Afghanistan. Everyone will receive a response, whether or not they are a constituent.
The top priority for me is helping constituents who are worried about family members in Afghanistan. My team and I have been working as hard as we can to try to get people out and to manage the different systems of government departments. It has been – and still is – so frightening for people with family there and we are doing our best to keep in touch with everyone and with the key refugee support organisations and volunteers.
Some of you have contacted me to ask about colleagues and friends you’ve worked with or you know. Many of these people work with charities and non-governmental organisations or the UK government there.
We’ve followed up on every single case, taking details, getting them into the government processes and chasing for responses. It’s been frustrating and worrying for the families and friends as there has been slow or no progress for most people wanting to leave.
So many of you have taken the time to email asking me to help as many people as possible. Some of you have emailed about specific groups of people you are concerned about such as women, musicians and journalists, women’s health workers, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, people who’ve worked in women’s rights or civil society or other activities the Taliban disapproves of.
And many of you have asked me to make sure there is a generous resettlement scheme for Afghan refugees. Some of you have offered to help when people arrive here.
Many of you have asked what you can do to help.
My colleagues and I are pushing the government to:
- Work with our allies, partners and other countries in the region to establish a refugee resettlement scheme, urgently, to help all those who need our protection. This should include those who have worked with UK government or forces and those who have worked in civil society, particularly in relation to human rights.
- Establish how to get humanitarian aid to displaced peopl on the borders and inside Afghanistan. This is going to be difficult but it is vital that it is done as quickly as possible.
- Take a strong stance on promoting human rights to the new regime and work with allies to communicate this effectively.
- Use our leverage where we have it to support real assistance and protection for Afghans at risk.
My team and I are working with our Labour colleagues on pushing this. In the meantime we are advising constituents with family members still there to stay in touch with us and to consider legal advice – we don’t yet know when the new scheme will come into existence but we do have people stuck in the existing systems of family reunion applications and we’ll try to find out how best to help in these changed circumstances.
It’s obviously a situation which changes rapidly so I’m monitoring the news and my inbox closely at all times.
What you can do:
- Make a donation to one of our local refugee support organisations or offer to volunteer.
- Donate goods for refugees via Bristol’s Aid Box Community – they have a specific list of items they want and they have a Covid safe collection and delivery system.
- Offer Bristol City Council Resettlement Scheme a property if you are a landlord – you will receive a fair rent and management assistance.
- Make a donation to one of the international humanitarian organisations operating in the region such as International Rescue Committee and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Thank you all for your support.