Blackford: Scotland stands ready to help stricken Afghans, PM must ‘show leadership’

SCOTLAND will play its “full part” in helping Afghans in crisis, according to an SNP MP.

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, has also called for a meeting of the four nations of the UK to discuss a plan for refugee resettlement in the country, and urged the UK Government to show leadership.

The calls come after senior government officials chaired the third COBRA meeting in four days about the growing tensions in Afghanistan.

Downing Street officials said this morning that the UK was working to get citizens out of the contry, including those Afghans who had visas to come to the UK. 

However Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, acknowledged in an interview that some people will not get out. 

Mr Blackford said it was essential that Westminster worked with the devolved governments of the UK, and show leadership in providing Afghans a safe route of passage to the country. 

He also called for the Foreign Secretary to reverse foreign aid cuts – a controversial move which Downing Street has already said will not be overturned. 

Mr Blackford, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said: “The appalling situation in Afghanistan is one of the biggest foreign policy failures in modern times – and the UK government bears its share of responsibility.

“Scotland stands ready to play its full part in resettling refugees and tackling the humanitarian crisis. It is vital that the UK government works with the devolved governments and shows leadership, including by opening our doors and providing safe routes for resettlement.

“Canada has already committed to resettle more than 20,000 vulnerable Afghans including women leaders, human rights workers and reporters. There is no question that the UK must also commit to leadership on this scale.”

Earlier today, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said there were no targets on the number of refugees the UK planned to accept from Afghanistan, however the Herald understands the Home Office has already been eyeing Scottish hotels to accommodate an expected influx of refugees. 

Mr Blackford added: “The Tory government’s cuts to international aid must be reversed, and the UK must play a leading role in funding and supporting humanitarian efforts to save lives, promote peace and protect human rights, especially those of women and girls – with a specific fund dedicated to the Afghanistan humanitarian crisis.

“The immediate priority must be to do everything we can to protect lives – but in time there must also be a chance to review how the UK’s involvement in Afghanistan went so badly wrong.

“The UK government must commit to a future judge-led inquiry into the war in Afghanistan to ensure full scrutiny, accountability and lessons learned.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992