North Kirklees' MPs stress need to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

North Kirklees' two MPs have shared their thoughts on the situation in Afghanistan as efforts continue to evacuate people from the country following the Taliban seizing control.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 11:30 am
Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood

Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood and Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater both stressed the importance of getting support to those in need and working with the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Ms Leadbeater said: "The plight of people trying to get out of Afghanistan in recent days has been harrowing and heart-breaking to observe.

"After so many Afghans as well as British, American and other service personnel have lost their lives over the past twenty years it is shameful that the scenes we have been witnessing on our TV screens should have been allowed to happen.

Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater has welcomed Kirklees Council's pledge to offer a safe welcome in the district to refugees

"It is impossible to escape the conclusion that there has been a massive failure both in intelligence and in military and diplomatic planning.

"MPs on all sides of the House made their dismay and anger very clear when Parliament was recalled and it is disappointing that the Foreign Secretary continues to avoid responsibility for failing to do everything he could to help as the calamity unfolded.

"But while those failures are serious and many questions remain unanswered, I am more concerned about all those whose lives and well-being are threatened going forward.

"With my front bench Labour colleagues I will be calling on ministers to ensure the UK gets aid directly to those who need it most and offers practical and moral leadership in the refugee crisis.

"That means taking our fair share of refugees now - not promising to do so sometime in the future when it may be too late - and also ensuring that the resettlement process is suitable for both those who are seeking refuge and the communities they are joining.

"I have been in regular contact with colleagues in Parliament and with the local authority to ensure we are doing everything possible to help.

"I have co-signed a letter from Harriet Harman MP supporting female MPs in Afghanistan and put my name to a letter in The Times insisting that we must not turn our backs on the people there.

"I also joined a meeting this week which included updates from the UK Ambassador to Afghanistan and General Nick Borton, chief of staff operations, who spoke of the heroic efforts of our troops on the ground to provide much needed food, water and support to Afghan civilians in need.

"I applaud the commitment from Kirklees Council to play its full part in supporting the humanitarian response to the situation, including offering a safe welcome to those refugees who find their way here.

"The work of local charities and the generosity shown by so many people in Batley and Spen is a testament to our values as a community.

"At the same time, my thoughts are with the families and friends of those British service personnel killed and injured in Afghanistan over the past two decades.

"They served with outstanding courage and bravery and we owe it to them not to fall short in our response today.

"This is, above all, a humanitarian situation.

"We encouraged the people of Afghanistan to believe that the values of tolerance, equality and freedom would help define their lives.

"We told Afghan women and children in particular that they could look forward to a future free from oppression.

"Too many people died to defend those principles for us to abandon them now."

Mr Eastwood said: "The situation in Afghanistan is highly fluid, and we must continue working with the international community to ensure safe evacuations and prevent a humanitarian crisis.

"I support the Government's efforts to ensure that Afghan nationals such as translators and support staff who have assisted our efforts are evacuated safely.

"The Prime Minister assures me that the Government is urgently engaged in this task, using every political and diplomatic means at its disposal to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and protect the rights of women, girls and ethnic minorities."