Pledge to continue life-transforming work - even in the face of the Taliban's triumph
Scottish charities have vowed to continue vital work in Afghanistan – even as the country is over-run by the Taliban.
The Halo Trust, the Linda Norgrove Foundation, both Scottish-based, and Save The Children were among those who vowed continue services in the state, which saw a rapid collapse in its US-propped government after President Joe Biden withdrew troops.
Dumfriesshire-based anti-mine charity The Halo Trust says it hopes to be able to return quickly to its life saving work.
The charity was recently the target of a devastating attack by an unknown group of masked gunmen.
Ten Halo staff were shot dead in their beds in June and another 14 were wounded, one of them fatally when the charity's compound in Baghlan province came under fire. The Taliban denied any involvement.
Halo says that after more than 30 years of mine clearance, it is determined to continue its work..
It has been striving to make the country’s minefields safe with the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan.
Their vital work had ensured almost 80% of the recorded minefields and battlefields have been neutralised.
In a statement on the safety of its workers, The Halo Trust said staff have left the country safely but their priority now lies with supporting Afghan colleagues.
They said: “We would like to thank everyone who has enquired about the safety of all of our staff in Afghanistan.
“We can confirm that all of our internationals have now left the country safely. We are currently focused on the safety of our Afghan colleagues.
“We hope that they will quickly be able to return to work, saving lives, as they have in Afghanistan since 1988.”
The Western Isles-based Linda Norgrove Foundation charity was set up in memory of a Scots aid worker killed in Afghanistan and has said it intends to continue its work supporting girls' and women's education there.
Linda, 36, from Lewis, was kidnapped in September 2010 and died during a rescue attempt the following month.
Her mother Lorna Norgrove said: "It looks as though we've another uphill struggle ahead. But this is nothing compared with the struggles of women in Afghanistan and our thoughts are with them at this time."
The charity insists its work in the country will continue.
A statement on it website reads: “When life for people in Afghanistan deteriorates, our support becomes even more valuable.
“We have always tried to find positive projects and to highlight the improvements small donations can make to those in difficult circumstances in Afghanistan. Although the current security situation leads to gloom and despondency, we must not lose sight of the obvious fact that, when life for the people there deteriorates, our support becomes even more valuable.
“Now is not the time to back out.”
Meanwhile, Save the Children has expressed grave concern for the safety and wellbeing of children in Afghanistan, including an estimated 75,000 who have had to flee their homes in the past month, and said it remained committed to staying in the country and was working to resume programmes as soon as possible to protect the future of children.
Christopher Nyamandi, country director of Save the Children Afghanistan, said: “There has never been a more important time to affirm our dedication to the Afghan people and our commitment to stay and deliver. Save the Children Afghanistan will not abandon our work, staff or the communities we have served since 1976, our commitment remains unchanged.
"Before the current escalation of violence and mass displacement, the humanitarian situation for children in Afghanistan was already dire, not only due to the ongoing conflict but also due to drought and the fallout from Covid-19. Now we're seeing even more children going hungry, and thousands more children living outside in the open without food or medical care.
“While at present, we have had to suspend the vast majority of our services because of the active conflict and instability of the situation, we will resume our work as soon as it is safe to do so.
“In order to resume our activities, we urge all parties to the conflict to put an end to the violence, protect humanitarian access and uphold international humanitarian law. Afghan children deserve a future free violence and a home protected from conflict.”
Save the Children has worked in Afghanistan since 1976 to deliver lifesaving services to children and their families across the country but has had to temporarily suspended services. The organisation provided health, education, child protection, nutrition and livelihoods services, reaching over 1.6 million Afghans in 2020.
It said it aims to resume its work on health, education and child protection as soon as it’s safe to do so and that it has particular concern about rising levels of hunger caused by drought and displacement.
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