31 August 2021
How can we respond to the situation in Afghanistan?
The situation in Afghanistan is changing rapidly and the future for its people is very uncertain. Many churches and community groups are offering help and support to charities and aid agencies who are working within the country and also to the Afghan people who are being resettled in the UK. Here are some ways that you can help along with a prayer for the people of Afghanistan from the Vice President of the Methodist Conference.
Those remaining in Afghanistan , those fleeing and those connected with the country around the world will be in deep distress. We can join in prayer for all affected, that God’s light might shine through the darkness.
You can find a prayer from the Vice-President of the Methodist Conference here: https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/news/latest-news/all-news/a-statement-and-prayer-on-the-afghanistan-crisis/.
You can also pray for the action our partners are taking including
in Italy, Mediterranean Hope which has e offered 15 spaces in their reception centre in Sicily.
In the UK, the Forces Chaplaincy are connecting with their local bases. Where people have been landing in the UK from Afghanistan, personnel on military bases are offering support.
Helping those who remain in Afghanistan
Regardless of what happens in the coming days and weeks, poverty and food insecurity is still likely to be very high within the country. A significant amount of humanitarian aid has been paused in the country due to the immediate threat to safety. However, despite difficult conditions, a number of NGOs and aid agencies are still seeking to distribute essential items when they are able. You can support their work financially, as well as remembering them in prayer.
UNHCR remains on the ground in Afghanistan wherever it is safe to do so, distributing tents, hygiene kits and core relief items. You can donate to their work here: https://www.unrefugees.org.uk/where-help-is-needed/afghanistan-situation/.
Christian Aid have been working with partners to distribute food and hygiene kits to people who have been internally displaced due to the conflict. They’re using funds from their Global Hunger Emergency appeal, which you can donate to here: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/news/afghanistan-our-response
The British Red Cross are also fundraising for their work across Afghanistan. You can donate online, by phone or by post: https://donate.redcross.org.uk/appeal/afghanistan-crisis-appeal.
Helping Afghan nationals being resettled in the UK
The UK Government has committed to supporting 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan in the coming years, taking up to 5,000 this year. However, there has yet to be an announcement about when and how this scheme will begin. You can find out more information on this scheme here: https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2021/08/19/factsheet-resettlement-routes-for-afghan-nationals/.
However, many Afghan nationals have already begun to travel to the UK, through the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy. The Home Office is working with local councils to establish places to house people when they arrive. This resettlement route is only available for those being brought directly from Afghanistan for the UK.
There are a number of groups offering support locally to Afghan nationals who have been brought to the UK. Most will arrive with very few possessions or resources, and are in desperate need of essential items. You can donate financially towards their work, or donate items and volunteer.
Act locally: Many local authorities are committing to resettle Afghan nationals locally. You can support families who are resettled into your neighbourhood through befriending and offering essential items. You can find out what is happening in your local area on this government site: https://www.gov.uk/help-refugees.
City of Sanctuary are connecting people up with their local authority to ensure that the right help is provided. You can find guidance from them here. https://cityofsanctuary.org/2021/08/25/how-to-help-afghan-refugees/.
Choose Love are working with Afghan-led organisations to help where the need is greatest, providing vital aid and support for people who have fled the country. You can donate here: https://donate.chooselove.org/campaigns/urgent-fundraiser-support-afghan-refugees/.
Refugee Action are doing urgent work to meet people as they arrive at airports and provide the emergency support they need. You can find out more about their work and donate here: https://www.refugee-action.org.uk/afghanistan-crisis/.
Care4Calais are working in Manchester to provide emergency support for Afghan refugees being housed locally. You can find out how to donate essential items at their drop off points across the country, or to donate to buy essential items, here: https://care4calais.org/news/do-you-want-to-help-afghan-refugees/.
Welcome Churches are working with local churches across the country to provide on the ground support. You can donate to their emergency appeal here: https://welcomechurches.org/updates/emergency-afghan-fund/.
If your church wants to join the Welcome Network, to welcome refugees from Afghanistan and across the world, you can find our more here: https://welcomechurches.org/churches/join-the-network/.
Contact your MP
You can write to your MP, to urge the UK government to offer safety to Afghan refugees.
A limited number of Afghan nationals who need support will receive it through the UK’s resettlement scheme. However, the scheme will not provide support for those who have already fled the conflict, or who won’t be able to access the scheme. The UK’s approach towards asylum seekers who attempt to claim sanctuary in the UK via irregular routes is hostile. The new Nationality and Borders Bill currently in parliament plans to make access to sanctuary for those who come to the UK via irregular routes even harder. This could mean that thousands of people cannot find the safety they need.
Some of the key points you might want to raise with your MP are:
- Grant immediate refugee status to Afghans already waiting for status in the UK.
- Release all Afghan nationals from detention, and suspend the removal of Afghan asylum seekers from the UK.
- Expand the family reunion route so that Afghans can be joined by other members of their family, such as parents and siblings.
- To abandon the plans set out in the Nationality and Borders Bill to criminalise and deny full refugee status to those who make their own journey to seek asylum in the UK.
- To welcome the Government’s plans to resettle 20,000 Afghan nationals in the UK over five years, but ask that they go further to resettle more than 5,000 refugees this year. The last few days have shown that we must act quickly to be effective, so we must work to evacuate as many people as possible.
Christian Aid are also encouraging people to join their call on the UK government to increase its response. You can add your voice here: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/stand-afghanistan.
You can find out more about how to take action to oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill with JPIT, including writing to your MP: http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/nationalityandbordersbill/.
We are also concerned that cuts to the International Aid budget mean that there won’t be the resources to support those who remain in Afghanistan in this time of crisis. You can find more about the cuts to the international aid budget, and how to write to your MP on this issue, here: https://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/aid/.