Reports and images from Afghanistan, showing terrified civilians trying to flee the country after the Taliban seized power, underlines the importance of the global system of refugee protection. All countries, Britain included, must do their bit to provide a place of safety for those who need it. British Future was proud to coordinate and sign this letter in The Times urging a generous refugee resettlement offer. We were pleased to see the swift announcement of such a resettlement programme.
Sir, Parliament meets today to discuss the tragic situation in Afghanistan. The main focus should be how, given our commitment to the Afghan people over the past two decades, Britain as G7 president can help the men, women and children fleeing for fear of persecution and torture (“PM draws up plan to resettle Afghan refugees in Britain”, August 17).
Hundreds of thousands of people, but especially those Britain and other western nations have supported over 20 years — woman, girls, musicians, teachers, administrators — are scared for their safety and livelihoods. As well as providing a route to safety for those who have worked with the British military and its contractors, the government must work with its western allies to act swiftly in helping all displaced people through safe and legal routes to refugee protection.
In 2015, in response to the Syrian crisis, the UK welcomed families with a five-year resettlement programme which, by most accounts from the local authorities and agencies involved, has been a success. Working with local councils, the government must commit to a sizeable, ambitious and well-resourced resettlement programme to welcome Afghans and their families. It should suspend all removals of people back to the country, and consider changing the reunion rules so that a broader range of family members can join those who have settled in Britain.
Global Britain has a proud record of helping those fleeing persecution, oppression and tyranny. We must quickly provide a safe haven to Afghans fleeing for their lives.
Enver Solomon, Chief executive, Refugee Council; Sunder Katwala, director, British Future; Lord Victor Adebowale; Baroness Altmann; Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife General; Lord Sir Richard Dannatt; Lord Alf Dubs; Nus Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden; Lord Goldsmith QC; Lord Hannay of Chiswick; Lord Kerr of Kinlochard; Kim Leadbeater, Labour MP for Batley & Spen; Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavillion; Stuart McDonald, Scottish National Party MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East; Lord Ricketts; Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd; Baroness Stroud; Baroness Sayeeda Warsi; Baroness Wheatcroft; David Aaronovitch, journalist; Akeela Ahmed, chair, Anti Muslim Hatred Working Group; Paul Anticoni, chief executive, World Jewish Relief; Imam Qari Asim, Leeds Makkah Mosque; James Clark, executive director, Conservative Friends of the Armed Forces; Andrea Cleaver, chief executive, Welsh Refugee Council; Steve Crawshaw, policy and advocacy director, Freedom from Torture; Alex Deane; Dr Edie Friedman, executive director, Jewish Council for Racial Equality; Daniel Hamilton, managing director, FTI Consulting; Binita Kane, doctor and founder of South Asian Heritage Month; Abda Khan, lawyer and writer; Mariam Khan, journalist and author; James Kirkup, director, Social Market Foundation; Daniel Korski, former deputy head, Downing Street policy unit; Dr Monika Kruesmann, co-director, Reset Communities and Refugees; Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive, Refugee Action; Dr Azeem Ibrahim, chair, Ibrahim Foundation; Zubeda Limbada, director, Connect Futures; Patrick Lohlein, founder, One Nation Grassroots; Kate Maltby, writer and broadcaster; Ed Matthews, campaign director, E3G; Dr Tania Mathias, former Conservative MP; Su Moore, chief executive, Jo Cox Foundation; Katherine Mulhern, CEO, Restitution; Clare Mulley, author, broadcaster and historian; Olivette Otele, professor of slavery, University of Bristol; Frances O’Grady, general secretary, TUC; Dr Mark Pack, president, Liberal Democrats; Jonathan Portes, professor of economics and public policy at the School of Politics; Adam Purvis, Dark Matter Laboratories; Henna Rai, international human rights and ending VAWG activist; Olivia Robey, former adviser to the home secretary and anti-slavery commissioner; Benedict Rogers, deputy chair, Conservative Party Human Rights Commission; Hallie Rubenhold, historian and author; Samenua Sesher OBE, associate, Peoples Palace Projects and director, Museum of Colour; Saba Shaukat, global head of technical capability portfolio and strategy at QinetiQ; Ryan Shorthouse, founder and chief Executive of bright Blue; Dr Sunny Singh, professor of creative writing and inclusion in the arts, London Metropolitan University; Libby Smith, executive of the Labour Campaign for International Development; Sam Smethers, former CEO, the Fawcett Society; Susie Symes, chair, Museum of Immigration; Jessica Toale and Peymana Assad, co-chairs of Labour Foreign Policy Group; Andrea Vukovic, director, Asylum Matters; Sophie Walker, founding leader of the Women’s Equality Party; Mariam Zaidi, journalist; Zehra Zaidi, lawyer, development consultant and activist; Sabir Zazai, chief executive, Scottish Refugee Council