In an open letter sent to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom, members of the British and Irish Agencies in Afghanistan Group (BAAG) and Bond, the UK network for organisations working in international development, have called on the British government to use its diplomatic levers to allow humanitarian organisations and their partners to continue to deliver assistance to people safely, and support people wanting to leave Afghanistan. 

In this letter we have four key asks:  

  1. Work with likeminded allies including the UN, to ensure that protection of civilians remains the priority.
  2. Increase UK humanitarian support to Afghanistan and Afghan civil society.
  3. Act to protect the rights and lives of women and girls and minority groups.
  4. Support all steps to safeguard the international protection of the people of Afghanistan, and increase the number of voluntary, safe and legal routes to safety.

Charles Davy, Afghanaid's Managing Director said:  

We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian community being able to deliver assistance to women and children, as there are already restrictions being placed on female staff. Humanitarian and development agencies must be able to employ women and female staff must be able to carry out the full scope of their duties for us to deliver lifesaving assistance and basic services to women and children. 

The humanitarian needs are mounting, as the conflict has caused large-scale displacement and the resilience of the population has been undermined by the recent drought. We call on the international community and the UK government, in particular, to do everything it can to increase assistance and to support principled humanitarian action.

Simon Starling, Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research at Bond, the UK network for organisations working in international development, said:  

We urge the government to not abandon the people of Afghanistan, many of whom have worked alongside UK nationals in the country for decades and have put their lives at risk to help make their nation a more peaceful place.  

The people of Afghanistan, particularly the most vulnerable groups, must be given access to protection and safety, including safe and legal routes to seek asylum as well as food, water and healthcare.  

The UK government should deploy all the humanitarian and diplomatic levers at their disposal to support all the Afghan people who are in need. A critical starting point must be securing the ability for NGOs and their partners to be able to continue to deliver assistance to communities safely, reversing recent aid cuts to the Afghan people and putting an end to any forced removals to Afghanistan and a reviewal of any refused asylum claims.  

Elizabeth Winter, Executive Director at British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG) said:  

We are extremely concerned about the plight of people in Afghanistan. The international community must not turn its back on these people when they need us the most. We are very concerned for the safety of Afghan colleagues and partners and disturbed by reports that atrocities against civil society activists are both being threatened and are taking place. We urge the international community to do everything they can to keep people safe. This must include expanding the ARAP scheme and keeping the airport open so anyone that wants to leave can.

You can read the full letter to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs here.