Quakers urge UK government to recognise responsibility for Afghan refugees

As parliament is recalled on Wednesday to debate the crisis in Afghanistan, Quakers in Britain call on the UK government to recognise its moral obligations in Afghanistan.

The military takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban forces is a tragic culmination of a long series of military conflicts that has afflicted the country for decades.

The 20-year NATO intervention in Afghanistan did not bring about a peaceful and democratic society. Around five million people who have fled since 2012 have not been able to return to their homes. After the events of the last few days, many more will surely follow.


We need to change our approach to one that emphasises our common humanity.

- Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain


After almost two decades of military presence, Quakers say the UK has a moral responsibility to people displaced by the conflict. The UK government should work urgently with others to expand safe and legal routes for migration and offer sanctuary to those who need it. The UK's promise to provide visas for Afghan nationals working with British officials is a start, but the responsibility does not end there.

''Current UK policy means that many migrants have no choice but to risk their lives on dangerous journeys to Britain and face hardship and a hostile environment when they arrive," said Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain. “This will be made worse by proposals in the Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through parliament. Now is not the time to harden our hearts to vulnerable people forced to flee their homes. Instead we need to change our approach to one that emphasises our common humanity."

Quakers say that creating lasting peace and security requires investment in peace-building and human development, rather than war and violence.

Paul Parker said, “The chaotic scenes unfolding on our screens are bringing home the human tragedy of a long series of military conflicts. We urge all involved to work for peaceful solutions and to prioritise human rights, dignity and wellbeing.

“Quakers believe in the sanctity of all human life. That leads us to reject the wisdom of military intervention as a 'solution' to conflict or terrorist acts. In 2001, when British military intervention in Afghanistan was considered, Quakers in Britain urged the UK government to take an alternative approach, stating, 'It is the roots of violence which have to be addressed. It is our experience that these lie in the way our world community is organised.'"

Social media image of Kabul traffic jam by AfghanistanMatters on Flickr