24 August 2021

Networks representing over 400 British humanitarian and development organisations, including over 30 NGOs working in Afghanistan, are calling on the G7 nations, who meet today, to take urgent action to provide safe passage to Afghan civil society activists and programme staff whose lives are now at risk, especially human rights defenders and women's rights campaigners.

With their long experience of work in Afghanistan, the NGOs also caution against the risk of G7 states allowing their foreign policy agendas, including the talk of potential sanctions against the Taliban, to undermine or block the delivery of life-saving aid to Afghans affected by the crisis. 

Elizabeth Winter, Executive Director at British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG) said: 

“The most immediate and pressing concern is that we show solidarity with the Afghans who have worked for justice, peace and development in their country, and help them and their dependents reach a place of safety. While we welcome the efforts being made to evacuate Afghan civil society activists from Kabul airport, huge numbers will be left behind once the airlift ends. The UK's offer to resettle just 5,000 Afghans this year is inadequate and lacks the urgency needed to help the many thousands of people at risk. It also sends an unhelpful message to other nations, including other G7 states, and countries neighbouring Afghanistan. When the UK is encouraging other states to be generous, then it too must do more to help.” 

Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond, the UK network for organisations working in international development said:

“The G7 Summit is due to discuss aid pledges and strategy for Afghanistan, in the light of the spiralling humanitarian needs and complex, evolving political situation. For UK INGOs and other aid agencies operating in Afghanistan, it is critical that political stances by G7 states, such as the threat of sanctions or counter-terrorism policies, do not unwittingly block the delivery of aid to people in need. Such interventions aimed at preventing funds flowing to proscribed armed groups have previously impeded or even prevented the delivery of life-saving aid and protection for vulnerable people. This work is never easy given the changing political, environmental and security situation. We urge those with power to support and enable, not obstruct our vital work.”  

BAAG and Bond are urging the G7 states, as well as the Taliban and other parties in Afghanistan, to respect the independence, impartiality and neutrality of humanitarian organisations. Just as under the previous government, so too under the new authorities, UK international NGOs and their Afghan partners are continuing to deliver aid to people suffering after decades of conflict, poverty and drought. 
  

ENDS

Notes to editor

  1. On the 17th of August, UK civil society groups wrote to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom urging the UK government not to abandon Afghan people.
  2. Established in 1987, the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG) is an umbrella organisation of 28 British and Irish NGOs delivering vital development, rights and humanitarian programmes in Afghanistan. BAAG works with Afghan civil society to champion the voices, needs and recommendations of Afghans.  
  3. Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice. 
  4. For further information or interviews please contact Maryam Mohsin on 07555 336029 or [email protected]