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Richmond Park News: 27 August 2021

The still-growing tragedy in Afghanistan has continued to dominate my thoughts and work this week. I have been contacted by dozens of Richmond Park constituents with relatives in Afghanistan and have offered all the help I can to their family members. Many of them have UK immigration rights but have been unable to get transport out of the country. Their stories are heartbreaking, and I want to assure my constituents that I am doing all I can for them.

I am hoping to get more information about the Government's resettlement scheme soon, and I join my Liberal Democrat colleagues in demanding that the Government tell us how many people who are eligible to settle in the UK have been left behind in Afghanistan, and what they are going to do to get them to safety. We must never forsake our moral duty to those who are now in danger because they worked for British military, diplomatic or aid organisations.

I want to pay tribute to the Ministry of Defence staff and service personnel on the ground in Afghanistan who have run the evacuation -- risking their own lives to try to get as many people out as possible before the August 31 deadline. Their efforts have been heroic and they deserve all of our thanks. They have saved thousands of lives this week and I am deeply grateful for their service.

I call on the Home Secretary to explain the Government's plans to assist the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees who will be fleeing repressive Taliban rule over the next weeks and months. The British Government must work with international partners to establish safe corridors, so those who wish to leave can do so safely by land. We cannot abandon Afghan refugees, many of them women and children, to the Taliban and ISIS.

If you would like to help those fleeing Afghanistan, I would suggest that at this time monetary donations will be the most helpful. Aid organisations have not had time to set up channels for other types of donations yet, though clothes and other goods are being supplied to people arriving. Some organisations asking for assistance include Refugee Council UK, the Red Cross, and the International Rescue Commitee.

On the local level, the Feltham-based Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) provides support, skills and knowledge to help new arrivals integrate and prosper in the UK. Constituents from Afghanistan might like to contact them for support and information, and others might want to donate to support their work. You can see their website here.

If you would like to write to me for personal assistance, please send the following details:

Your details: name, address, email address, phone number

Relative/s in Afghanistan's details: Full name, date of birth, nationality, relationship to constituent, Home Office reference number, passport/travel document number, visa/ARAP status and any reference numbers, current location, any supporting documents

If you would like to write to me about Government policy on Afghanistan, please check whether your questions have been answered in this open letter to my constituents. If your policy concern is covered there, I would like to kindly ask you not to write to me at this time, while I focus on assisting those in need.

Please feel free to share this newsletter or the open letter with other constituents.