MP Margaret Hodge: 'I fled conflict and know how terrifying it feels'
Dame Margaret Hodge MP, Barking
- Credit: PA
The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has been a total disaster. Twenty long years of combat and struggle have been wasted in a matter of days.
Our government and others have let down the Afghan people who will now suffer under the rule of the Taliban.
As evacuations from Kabul end, there are still many thousands of people seeking to flee this brutal new regime.
At the time of writing, at least 50 people in Barking and Dagenham have contacted me requesting support for more than 300 friends and family trapped in Afghanistan.
The stories I have heard from local residents are deeply upsetting. People told explicitly by the Taliban: “We know who you are, we know what you’ve done and where you live."
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Family members who taught English, biology or chemistry. All now taboo; they feel desperately vulnerable as a result.
Relatives who worked as contractors for the British government as drivers, yet aren’t considered a priority for evacuation.
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And those who have promoted women’s rights who are now fearful for their lives.
The government has been far too slow to react to this humanitarian emergency. There’s been a failure of preparation. A failure of planning. And a failure of action.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office hasn’t responded to a single one of the cases I have raised with them.
Calls to the Home Office hotline carry a charge, meaning I cannot with good heart recommend constituents call to follow up cases themselves. And the prime minister has promised to open our doors to too few Afghan refugees.
As someone who fled conflict as a child, I know how terrifying it feels. The government must urgently put in place a welcoming refugee scheme.
After two decades of deployment in Afghanistan and the tragic deaths of 457 of our armed forces, this cannot be a time for Britain to shirk its responsibilities. We should have done so much better.
I will continue to pressure the government to ensure those at risk are safely evacuated. Now more than ever we must show compassion in the face of catastrophe.