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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

A year since the fall of Kabul, Scottish Afghans rally for justice

 

They say they have been left in limbo and abandoned by Westminster

Scottish Afghans will mark a year from the fall of Kabul to the Taliban by making a renewed call for justice from the UK government.

They say that people have been left in limbo by a Westminster regime which abandoned them to their fate.

Refugee families have been “abandoned” in hotels with no secure housing, say campaigners, and people in Afghanistan have been “abandoned” to the Taliban.

It’s a year since UK and US troops withdrew from Kabul and the Taliban once again took over the country. Lives were destroyed; families were separated.

One year on, hundreds of people allowed to enter the UK are still in limbo in unsuitable and cramped hotel accommodation as they await proper housing. Families in the UK are still seeking help to reunite with loved ones left behind in a climate of fear as their rights and freedoms are taken away.

In Afghanistan now, hunger and malnutrition are rife; the economy is collapsed; education for girls is removed; women’s basic rights to work and travel are gone. Disappearances and murders of civilians by the Taliban are common. Forced marriages and kidnapping of single women and girls keep them in terror. Sport, art and the media have been demolished.

Glasgow Afghan United (GAU) is supporting hundreds of Afghan people all around Scotland, including many families with young children who remain in hotel accommodation.

It is doing what it can to provide practical help and signposting, English and other education classes, sports and leisure opportunities and mental health support to overcome trauma and isolation and promote integration.

And its efforts are working - GAU pupils taking Higher exams achieved A grades even when working in a second language, thanks to gifted multilingual tutors and grant funding from the New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project.

But in the 12 months since the fall of Kabul, the Scottish Afghan community has had to deal with a range of shocks as UK government leaks and inquiries by MPs confirmed just how chaotic the official response to the crisis was, with the foreign secretary and key officials on holiday and urgent evacuation requests for those who supported UK authorities ignored.

GAU will mark a year since the fall of Kabul with a solidarity rally in George Square, Glasgow, on Saturday, 20 August where the community and allies will stand together in support of the Afghan people and in opposition to the Taliban. The event will also be a call to the UK government to provide justice for those suffering in limbo here. Speakers will address the audience from noon-2pm.

Abdul Bostani, managing director of Glasgow Afghan United, said: “Last summer, the lives of the Afghan people were torn apart when the Taliban seized power. The progress of decades of work was removed overnight, forcing whole families to flee and leaving those who could not at the mercy of a brutal regime with no respect for human rights and no tolerance of difference of any kind.

“In Scotland, the Afghan community was badly affected by this shock, which opened up old traumas for people as well as new horrors. People were desperate for information about the evacuation of parents, siblings and children but could learn nothing from the UK authorities. Stress, anxiety and depression became common and GAU experienced unprecedented demand from the community for our help.

“Our organisation expanded to become nation-wide as refugees were settled across the country, and we became a vital source of information and support to those in hotels.

“One year on, we are working with the Scottish Government and other partners to facilitate integration and resettlement. But so much more remains to be done.

“We call on the UK government to provide further funding for Afghan resettlement, to expand the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme and to restore aid funding for the country in this time of desperate need. We urge ministers to remove the rule that means bodyguards and other personnel employed through third-party contractor G4S and others cannot be relocated to the UK. And we seek urgent assurance that they will not legitimise the illegitimate, unwanted and anti-democratic Taliban.

“GAU stands for unity, equality, peace and diversity. We invite all who share our values and support the rights of ordinary Afghans to join with us in a vigil of solidarity in the heart of Glasgow. We will send a message around the world - Scotland stands with Afghanistan.”

 

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