Sturgeon calls on UK government to do more to help Afghan refugees

Nicola Sturgeon
Support us and go ad-free

Scotland’s first minister has criticised the UK government for failing to do enough to help Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban takeover of the country.

Abandoning the Afghans

Following its defeat in Afghanistan, the UK government has announced plans to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Afghans – particularly women and girls – with 5,000 arriving in the first 12 months.

Nicola Sturgeon said more needs to be done to help and Scotland stands ready to play its part. She told the PA news agency:

I don’t think the UK Government is doing enough or stepping up and meeting its responsibilities.

Twenty-thousand (refugees) over what they’re describing as the long term – I don’t know exactly what they mean by that – doesn’t even live up to the Syrian resettlement programme. I think the commitment is only for 5,000 in this first year.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

What’s unfolded in Afghanistan over the past days and weeks is horrifying and it has been contributed to because of the abrupt, unmanaged withdrawal of troops.

I think countries across the world have a real obligation – for humanitarian and human rights reasons – not to simply abandon the people of Afghanistan, women and girls in particular, to the mercies of the Taliban and to whatever fate has in store for them.

Instead, we must show willing to provide help, support and refuge, so I would call on the UK Government to build on its announcement today, for them to do more, and I will repeat the commitment that – just as we did in the Syrian resettlement programme – the Scottish Government stands ready to play our full part in helping meet that obligation.

She said the Scottish Government is considering using its Humanitarian Emergency Fund to provide aid for Afghans.

Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan
A plane lands at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, carrying British nationals and Afghans escaping Kabul (Mark Large/Daily Mail/PA)


MPs returned from recess for an emergency sitting of Parliament on 19 August to debate the situation in Afghanistan.

Prime minister Boris Johnson told the Commons it is an “illusion” to believe the UK alone could have prevented the collapse of Afghanistan after US troops withdrew. Speaking on the matter, Johnson suggested that the Taliban may have been surprised by how vulnerable to defeat the US-implemented government was:

I think it would be fair to say that the events in Afghanistan have unfolded and the collapse has been faster than even the Taliban themselves predicted

He further suggested that the rapid collapse of the country to the very forces the coalition sought to defeat was “part of our planning”:

What is not true is to say the UK Government was unprepared or did not foresee this. It was certainly part of our planning – the very difficult logistical operation for the withdrawal of UK nationals has been under preparation for many months.

He said the priority was to evacuate as many of the remaining UK nationals and Afghans who had worked with the British in the country as quickly as possible.

‘Massive failure’

Speaking in the Commons debate, the SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford repeated calls for a future “judge-led inquiry” into the war in Afghanistan, saying it is needed to ensure “such a massive foreign policy failure is never again repeated”.

He also again called for a summit of the four UK nations to house those fleeing Afghanistan and said the UK government’s approach to refugees needed “fundamental change”.

The Scottish Refugee Council’s chief executive Sabir Zazai said:

The UK Government’s announcement of an Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme is a welcome first step but we also need to provide immediate help to those fleeing the crisis in Afghanistan.

The sad truth is that not everyone who needs to reach safety from Afghanistan will be able to do so through this scheme. The scenes at Kabul Airport are a reminder that people don’t get a choice over the way they escape.

He called on the UK to commit to a “fair and humane asylum system”, drop plans for the Borders and Nationality Bill, give refugee status to Afghan nationals currently in the UK asylum system, and commit to widening family reunion laws.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us