'Afghanistan disaster one of the greatest failures in recent history'

Embargoed to 1800 Thursday August 26 Refugees from Afghanistan wait to be processed after arriving o

Refugees from Afghanistan at Heathrow Airport - Credit: PA

The situation that has unfolded in Afghanistan in recent days and weeks is nothing short of a tragedy.

The Taliban’s return to power is devastating for the Afghan people, and particularly for the women and girls, minorities, LGBT people and others whose safety and rights are now threatened.

The chaos that has followed as terrified people attempted to escape persecution by the new Taliban regime has been heart-breaking, and we were all sickened by the deadly bomb attacks last week.

Over the last few weeks, I have been in touch with dozens of families in Hampstead and Kilburn who have relatives fearing for their lives in Afghanistan and desperately trying to get to safety.

My team and I have been working tirelessly to raise every single one of these cases with the UK government, but sadly very few were able to board a plane out of Kabul airport before the evacuation ended.

Tulip Siddiq says the government has let children down during Lockdown

Tulip Siddiq is supporting families and friends of people stuck in Afghanistan - Credit: PA/Lauren Hurley

It is hard to put into words how disappointed I am that our government was unable to secure an extension to the evacuation and get everyone eligible to come to the UK out of Afghanistan.

I want to thank all the British personnel and others who worked so hard to evacuate people, but this disaster was undoubtedly one of the greatest failures of policy and planning in recent history.

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We have a moral duty to the people of Afghanistan, and particularly those interpreters and others who served so bravely alongside UK forces over the last two decades.

My Labour colleagues and I are urging ministers to come up with a plan to bring home those left behind and open the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme as soon as possible.

This scheme must be as wide-ranging as possible given the sheer number of people we know are in danger, and I am concerned that the current plans to take just 5,000 vulnerable Afghans in the first year do not meet the scale of the challenge.

My thoughts are with all those who are stuck in Afghanistan and their families and friends. I will continue to do everything I can to support them and hold the government to account on their moral obligation to help everyone in this dire situation.