The mission has been left in shatters but it’s time for countries to pick up the pieces.
The Taliban’s sudden rise to power has been devastating and a loss for all countries that have in some way been involved in Afghanistan since the US invasion in 2001. With the Taliban regaining land and power in Afghanistan, the war accomplished little of what was set out to be achieved, and the progress that had been made over the years in terms of women and minority ethnic rights and education is set to be erased as the Taliban imposes their warped interpretation of Sharia Law.
The very countries that got involved in the war are the very countries to be blamed for the onset of this crisis. The US and other countries’ withdrawal from Afghanistan was a decision made because the US had enough of their involvement and wanted to pull out before their goal was accomplished, under the pretence that they had trained the Afghan army enough to take over their commitment, rather than because the mission was accomplished. The Taliban and other terrorist groups hadn’t been stamped out completely and because of this, they have risen to power as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has acknowledged that the Taliban is now in control of the country but has made clear that chances were close to none for Britain or NATO troops to return to the country; the world has turned its back on Afghanistan. Countries have even turned their backs on those who have supported them over the years in their activities in Afghanistan. Ahmed, an interpreter who worked for the British Army has been forced into hiding, having not been able to escape Afghanistan. He has appealed to the UK government to evacuate him and his family as he fears he will be targeted for acting as the “eyes and ears” of the troops. He is just one of the many Afghans who have received little help for their unwavering support throughout the years. The UK government should have continued their evacuation efforts until all those who have worked with the troops were brought to safety and consider providing compensation to those who were forced to leave their homes due to the support provided to the UK.
While little can be done for the millions of Afghans who will be living under Taliban rule, the UK has the power to change the course of the lives of the Afghans who were able to escape to the UK. The airport setup the UK has arranged for the Afghans arriving from Afghanistan is welcoming and a great way to show support: food parcels and sandwiches have been handed out, crayons for kids, and NHS staff and GPs to attend to those with medical issues. However, this support is meaningless without comprehensive initiatives and plans put in place to support these refugees and asylum seekers in the longer term.
Afghans arriving independently have to go through the regular system for asylum claims which already has more than 70,000 claims. The time taken for their papers and claims to be processed can be great and this will prevent these people from being able to start their lives again. They can’t settle or work, and hence their lives are being put on hold for an indefinite period of time — the UK must find an alternate method to process these claims faster or provide an alternate interim status to these people so they can settle and work whilst their claims are being processed. Beyond this, Afghans must be provided with emotional and psychological support and therapy. They have experienced emotional turmoil that must be dealt with effectively, allowing their integration process into society to be easier and more seamless.
JAN Trust supports refugee and asylum seekers through workshops aimed to provide them with life skills important for thriving in the United Kingdom, along with training for the ‘Life in the UK’ test. These workshops, which have proven to be highly beneficial, cover CV writing, interview techniques, confidence building amongst other things. If you or anyone you know would benefit from these workshops, please contact a member from the team through our website.