Saturday 21 August 2021 / 10:30 PM Afghanistan / Defence / John Healey

Ministers must pursue every option to save Afghans in danger – John Healey

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, commenting on the evacuation of Afghans at Kabul airport said:

“Ministers were utterly unprepared for the US troop withdrawal and Taliban take-over. Labour fears we could see a tragic repeat at Kabul airport, if the US insist on a strict deadline for withdrawal without Britain’s agreement to evacuate safely all the Afghans we’ve pledged to help.

“Ministers must show the strength of purpose and leadership that’s been missing in recent months. We know this is difficult and there’s no guarantee of success. Britain must pursue every option to save Afghans in danger and check Taliban actions.”

Labour says the immediate questions the Government must answer are:  

·       Has the Prime Minister spoken personally to President Biden, to ask him to extend the evacuation period beyond the end of August? Is a joint plan in place between British and US military commanders for fully completing the evacuation?

·       Are Ministers working with NATO allies on a back-up plan to hold the airport without US troops until evacuations have been completed? Was the UK one of those in the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting on Friday that pressed for an extension?

·       Can UK troops do more to create safe assembly areas and passage to Kabul airport, with a NATO-led military policing operation and processing zone beyond the airport perimeter? Will Ministers press the UN P5 for a ‘blue hat’ monitoring mission to help check Taliban promises of safe passage to the airport for Afghans with the go-ahead for evacuation?

·       Will the government pursue, through the UN Security Council, a human rights monitoring programme in Afghanistan, urge the International Criminal Court to issue a clear warning to the Taliban about any violation of rights and rally G7 support for tough conditions on unfreezing Afghan government reserves held in the West?

·       Have Ministers yet got agreements with neighbouring countries to shelter, support and process Afghan refugees who will need to get out of Afghanistan across their borders once the airport evacuation ends?