Head of Romford Labour Angelina Leatherbarrow today writes in the Havering Daily on the crisis in Afghanistan.
I am not a geopolitical expert or have a deep academic knowledge of the history of conflict in Afghanistan, but then again I doubt many of us who have strong opinions on refugees do. But I am a human being, I am a woman and I am a mother and for those reasons when I watch the scenes unfolding on the news of the Taliban taking control on Afghanistan with their performative promises not to return to the oppression and brutal harm of women and girls, watching desperate people cling to planes as they take off, in the belief that death is a kinder outcome than a future under the control of the Taliban I know without a shadow of a doubt, that we should be opening our communities to them as they seek refuge from the evil of this regime.
Some will say “why do they all come here” or “we are overrun” Fact Check – Refugees represent less than 0.25% of the UK population. In 2020, the number of Afghan refugees in the UK was around 9,000, compared to 1.4 million in Pakistan, 780,000 in Iran and 148,000 in Germany so we are far from being one of the top players in this field. We have an absolute responsibility to these people who have been plunged in to turmoil since the weekend. The British Government knew 18 months ago that the US were going to pull their armed forces out of Afghanistan and that this would lead to a swift Taliban resurgence.
18 months ago they could have started bringing British nationals and allies out, they could have processed asylum claims and made safe paths available for people who wanted to flee the country ahead of what everyone knew was about to happen. Instead they covered their ears and eyes to the humanitarian disaster that was about to unfold.
Initially, the Govt were cagey about whether we would bring Afghan refugees to our shores at all but thankfully backtracked on that and pledged to take up to 5,000 refugees per year from Afghanistan. Refugees need asylum now, not in 10 months time when it will be too late for many brave Afghan’s who try to stand up for their families against the Taliban, It also may sound like a lot, but it only amounts to around one refugee per city in the UK. its a pitiful amount, especially if we are honest enough to say that we have contributed greatly to the situation which sees them needing to flee their homes with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. They also talk of who they will allow to come, ( translators, facilitators etc) as if your value as a human being to the British Government is entirely dependent on how useful you have been to them. But then again, one thing we know about this government is it has absolute contempt for all of us who are not cut from the same elitist cloth as them.
Working Class, Immigrant, Refugee. We are all the same to them, so we must stand in kindness, compassion and solidarity with each other.