Before becoming an MP, in what feels a lifetime ago, I was working for the BBC World Service just after 9/11. I was fortunate to experience Afghanistan first-hand. I worked with Afghan men, women, and children, heard about their hopes and challenges and saw the reality of the political and security landscape.
I have followed the fallout from Western intervention ever since and have been concerned with the re-emergence of the Taliban, especially when our attention was diverted with the rise of Daesh. Now I hear from the women and girls I met that under the Taliban, regardless of any peace settlement, they are living in fear. Every intervention has been short sighted and underestimated the progress of the Taliban.
I have been raising the issue of Afghanistan and the impact on women and girls for years, and particularly since April this year. I probed the Minister on the impact of our withdrawal on Afghan women and girls who rely on us for education and basic healthcare (watch here) and urged the Prime Minister to provide safe passage and put strategies are in place to protect our youth from being brainwashed by violent extremism (watch here). I have also added my voice to my female Westminster colleagues and pledged support for the 69 Afghan women MPs who are standing their ground and fighting for women and girls and democracy.
Since the country’s collapse, I have been on the forefront of working with charities and my Ministerial colleagues to get people out of the country. I am receiving a high volume of casework and all my focus right now is on helping people get out to safety. If you are a Wealden resident and know someone in need of help, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and include the following information about the individual(s) being represented:
- Full name
- Date of Birth
- Home Office reference number
- Passport / travel document number
- Have they already obtained a visa
- Do they have a visa application pending (if so, please provide the reference)
- Individual(s)’ contact details:
The Government is doing all it can to enable remaining British nationals, those Afghans who have worked for us and who are eligible for relocation, and their families to leave Afghanistan.
My statement on welcoming Afghan refugees:
I welcome the Government’s commitment to resettling 20,000 Afghan refugees in the UK. It is vital that our international allies take a unified approach on Afghanistan, and I will continue to urge the Government to work with our international partners and set up a coalition to ensure that we live up to our responsibilities and everyone does their fair share in supporting Afghan refugees in their hour of need.
I am also incredibly proud to have received a positive assurance from Wealden District Council on the matter: “I support any assistance the UK Government can give to Afghan citizens who helped the UK forces. Following the events in recent days they are now in danger and this country has a duty to give them assistance.” - Cllr Bob Standley, Leader of Wealden District Council
Please click on the following publications to read the media coverage:
Support for Afghan refugees pledged by Wealden District Council
Afghan refugees arriving in the area will be provided sanctuary as Wealden District Council has pledged support to help those fleeing the tragic war zone.
“Like many other local authorities, Wealden stands ready to provide sanctuary for those fleeing the terrifying events taking place in Afghanistan, but the government must ensure we are properly resourced to provide the safe haven and specialist support that these people need and deserve. We are in discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government about how we can support the emerging scheme for refugees from Afghanistan, and call on the government to ensure councils are properly funded to undertake this vital work."
How can I help?
Wealden residents who want to do something to help at this early stage can donate to the following charities:
- Emergency relief charities, such as The International Rescue Committee and the British Red Cross, are still working on the ground in Afghanistan.;
- Women for Women International helps female survivors of war rebuild their lives
- Charities such as Care4Calais are preparing to support refugees arriving in the country by collection clothes donations
- FurnitureNow supports refugees in our district
- Afghanaid provide kitchen kits that allow people who have left their homes to cook and safely store food.
‘Operation Warm Welcome’ was launched to ensure that Afghans arriving in the UK receive the vital support they need to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education, and integrate into their local communities.
This includes making at least £12 million available to provide additional school places so children can be enrolled as soon as possible, £3 million of additional NHS funding so that Afghan arrivals can access healthcare and register with a GP once they leave quarantine, as well as funding for undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships at UK universities, providing free of charge English language courses, working with councils and providing them with £5 million funding for support with housing, and appointing a specific Minister for Afghan Resettlement.
Those Afghans coming to the UK who worked closely with the British military and UK Government in Afghanistan, and risked their lives in doing so, will now receive indefinite leave to remain.
We must continue to work to secure safe passage out of Afghanistan, especially for women and girls who are facing brutalisation under the Taliban.
My articles and interviews
I have written an article on the impact of our withdrawal from Afghanistan on women and girls. Women and girls will suffer brutalisation under Taliban rule which will set the ideal conditions to promote violent extremism and terrorism on an international scale. We must be providing support for women and girls.
Read my article Withdrawal from Afghanistan has placed women and girls in mortal danger for The House Magazine here.
Read my article Afghanistan: The risks of a lose-lose situation for Policy Exchange here.
Listen to my interview with Times Radio here.
Listen to my interview with BBC Radio 4 Breakfast here.
My speech in the House of Commons 18/8/2021
On Wednesday 18 August 2021, Parliament was recalled for an emergency sitting to debate the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan.
Watch my full speech here.
BBC News, 18 August 2021 (here)
Tory MP Nusrat Ghani says when she worked for BBC World Service she had gathered some women to speak in the Afghan parliament for the first time.
"We did that under the threat of the Taliban. But I had a British passport, I knew I could come home and be safe. And I was naively optimistic and thought that these women's lives would be improved for the better. And now I am receiving phone calls and they are telling me it is game over." She says it took 20 years to get 69 women MPs in Afghanistan but now they know they need to get out "and get out soon", along with their families and people who have worked with them. "It means that 20 years from now we will have to start all over again," she says describing it as a "watershed of a failure by the West".
The Guardian, 18 August 2021 (here)
Nusrat Ghani, Tory MP: “This has been catastrophic, cack-handed, cruel and humiliating. It is a watershed in the failure of the west … I need to understand how our intelligence has failed, how the imagination of those providing the intelligence has failed, and if we’re relying on this intelligence going forward, how can we be sure that they know to do the right thing?”
The Guardian, 23 August 2021 (here)
The Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani told the Guardian: “Not a single Afghan woman has stated this naive optimism about the Taliban. They have not changed, women are hiding at home in fear of having been teachers and lawyers and just yesterday a women was killed in Afghanistan for not covering her hair.”