Help for vulnerable Afghans must be top of Liz Truss’s priorities | Letter

It is the government’s duty to help avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe, say Elizabeth Winter, Stephanie Draper and Christine Allen

As a new secretary of state, Liz Truss, takes the reins at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, continued support for the people of Afghanistan – many of whose lives remain at great risk – must remain a top priority.

Civil society groups and NGOs have been inundated with requests from people needing help to reach safer locations, but only a few have received it (‘They left us to die’: UK’s Afghan aid staff in hiding from Taliban, 17 September).

Clarity is needed on how the UK’s resettlement schemes are and will be operating, including who qualifies, what specifically constitutes a “vulnerable and at-risk individual”, and whether the UK has secured agreement from any third countries to host at-risk Afghans as they await resettlement.

The government must also show leadership and make no compromises on the role of women in aid delivery. Protecting the rights of Afghan women, in particular human rights defenders and journalists, must be a priority.

Aid efforts are struggling in the face of the liquidity crisis in Afghan banks and the barriers arising from sanctions, counter-terror measures and challenges in the banking system. We appreciate that the government is trying to resolve these problems, but with winter fast approaching, and around half the Afghan population in need of humanitarian assistance and a third food insecure, the situation will become dire unless urgently addressed.
Elizabeth Winter Executive director, British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group
Stephanie Draper CEO, Bond, the UK network for organisation working in international development
Christine Allen Executive director, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development

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