We thank you all for your donations of clothes, toys and books for newly migrated Afghan refugees. We initially were to be partnering with several Afghan groups for distribution all of which were based in North London, but their stockpiles soon began to exceed their storage space. So we have instead partnered with the local Salvation Army who will be distributing our gifts to Afghan’s temporarily located in Redbridge.
To bring some of you up to speed, the refugees from Afghanistan were placed in temporary hotels. Both the Home office and local councils have been quite reluctant to give out details of where they are staying due to a perceived safety risk.
These refugees in the main have come to the UK with just the clothes on their back. Although meals, toiletries and a place to stay are being provided, these families need clothes, books and toys. With our weather exhibiting a definite swing towards a colder climate, we are seeking urgent gifts of coats, gloves, scarves and warm shoes.
At our meals for the homeless project we are already welcoming a few Afghan families who also will have access to the donated gifts at our Centre, before we send them onto the Salvation Army. As more refugees are settled into home we are expecting to deliver more of the items directly from our centre. We have informed the Salvation Army, Refugee and Migrant Forum or East London and Essex (RAMFEL), St Mary’s Church Ilford (helping with advocacy for Afghan refugees), Ilford High Road Baptist Church, Paiwand (an Afghan led charity for asylum seekers) and the Afghan and Central Asian Association that we will have an open day for collection of clothes and other gifts from Clementswood Community Centre in Ilford from 5.30 – 7.30 on Saturday 7th November (concurrent with our meals for the homeless project) and are hoping to receive as many gifts as possible before then. Any items remaining after this will be sent to Pakistan.
Wattani Box an Afghan restaurant opposite our community centre have agreed to share details about our event through their community network too. We hope that levels of donations will increase in the run up to this date.
We thank you all for your ongoing prayers and support and remind you that we can collect items at Clementswood Community Centre most days of the week, but will need you to prearrange a drop-off. Please be prepared with a list of items donated and the number of bags to be provided. To facilitate this please call 020 8500 1192 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to donate a fiscal donation that will lead to gifts of these essentials for Afghan refugees, you can donate (here).
We also share the contents of an email received from MP Darren Jones for Bristol North West and Chair of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee since 2020. He wrote to us in response to several articles on Afghanistan (click here), (here) and (here):
Thank you for writing to me about the situation in Afghanistan. Please do accept my apologies for the time it has taken for me to respond to you.
The events in Afghanistan these past few weeks, and months, have been shocking and deeply saddening. The Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan exposed the staggering complacency from our Government, and those of our allies, about the Taliban threat.
We now face the tragic rollback of the gains that UK soldiers, diplomats and NGO workers, and their coalition and Afghan partners, worked so hard for over 20 years.
Following the end of military evacuations from Afghanistan through Kabul airport, the Government should now support the safe evacuation of the British nationals and Afghans who have been left behind, something that would not have been needed had the evacuation (or, in my preference, drawn down to a minimum but ongoing presence to support the previous Afghan government) been executed properly.
The Government has announced a new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) but few details have been confirmed. What we do know is that the ACRS will resettle Afghan nationals who have been forced to flee their home or face threats of persecution from the Taliban. The Government has also said that it will take a total of 20,000 Afghan nationals “in the long term”, with 5,000 expected to be resettled in its first year of operation.
I do not believe this meets the scale of the challenge that presents us. For those who desperately need help now there is no long term. The ACRS must be generous and welcoming. If it is not, we know the consequences: violent reprisals in Afghanistan; people fleeing into the arms of human traffickers; and more people risking and losing their lives on unsafe journeys including across the English Channel.
The new reality in Afghanistan demands the widest coordinated international approach in dealing with the Taliban. Global leaders should agree a coordinated humanitarian response, collective help for refugees and work to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers and diplomats remaining in Afghanistan, while doing all possible to try to protect the gains made in the last 20 years on human rights, girls’ education and counter-terrorism.
I spoke in the recall of Parliament during August on this issue. You can watch my contribution in the Commons via the following link here:
My thoughts remain with the Afghan people and the many families in our constituency, as well as up and down the country, who continue to be affected. My staff and I shall continue to help local families who are affected as best as we can.
I will continue to follow developments in Afghanistan, and the Government’s ongoing response, closely.
Please do let me know if I can be of any further support moving forward.