Failing the Afghan people - Liberal Democrats propose motion to next meeting of Newcastle City Council
Councillor Robin Ashby supported by Councillors Ali Avaei, Christine Morrissey and Doreen Huddart will propose:
Council notes :
1. As a City of Sanctuary, Newcastle is proud to have been able to receive some of the interpreters who served with the U K Armed Forces in Afghanistan, and their families.
2. Local families are still grieving the loss of relatives who gave their lives in the service of their country in the attempt to free ordinary Afghans from oppression.
3. As the Taliban have taken most of the country in breach of their agreement with the US and Afghan Governments, which enabled UK training forces to be withdrawn, millions of women and girls are facing the prospect of a new era of injustice, inequality, brutality, forced marriages, loss of freedoms and oppression.
4. The UK has failed to meet its moral obligation to all of those interpreters and others who risked their lives supporting our troops, while the Conservative Government's international development spending in Afghanistan has been slashed.
5. Taliban domination of Afghanistan must inevitably have an adverse effect on Pakistan, which may become a first destination to those fleeing, and those people of Pakistan origin who have made Newcastle their home.
6. Local authorities will have to carry the heaviest responsibility in relocating and housing Afghan refugees. Therefore, although this is done willingly, it is vital that the Government provides emergency funds now to ensure this can happen successfully and that these funds are not taken from the international aid budget or related humanitarian funding streams.
Council believes :
The UK government must work urgently with our international partners because right now we are failing to meet our responsibilities to the Afghan people. In particular, offering sanctuary in the UK to Afghans must be based on need not numbers or arbitrary timescales.
Council resolves to :
1. Write to H M Government about its concerns of an unfolding humanitarian crisis and abuse of human rights (especially female) stressing the sacrifice of local people and Newcastle's contribution to offering sanctuary to Afghans who have supported our national policies.
2. Urge the Government to do everything possible to safeguard those left behind including British citizens and those Afghans whose service to the Government, charities and NGOs puts them at risk, and other people of Afghanistan in jeopardy. This must include the restoration of previous levels of humanitarian aid in-country and for refugee camps in other countries which Afghans manage to reach.
3. It further urges HM Government to:
• Scrap the 'resettlement-only' plans set out in the Nationality and Borders Bill that would criminalise and/or deny full refugee status to those who make their own journeys to seek asylum in the UK, including those originating from Afghanistan.
• Grant immediate status to Afghans asylum-seekers already in the UK
• Release all Afghan nationals from detention.
• Expand the family reunion route so that Afghans can be joined by other members of their family, such as parents and siblings.