As someone who had to flee their country of birth at the age of 11, words cannot express how saddened I have been following developments in Afghanistan. Watching the scenes at Kabul Airport, the desperation of these people is palpable. Many of them put themselves, and their families, at risk by protecting British troops in hope of building a better, safer and more prosperous Afghanistan.
We must not and will not let these unsung heroes down. We have an obligation and a duty to the people of Afghanistan and I am proud the British Government has committed to implementing one of the most generous resettlement schemes in our country’s history in response to this crisis. But I am also proud of those working night and day at Kabul Airport, processing visa applications to ensure as many as possible of those who have been supporting our troops for the last twenty years can get to safety. Sir Laurie Bristow and his selfless devotion to the people he worked with can serve as an inspiration to us all.
I have been deeply moved by speeches made today by Members across the House, many of whom have a history of military service, conveying a mix of anger and sadness, but also an appreciation for the sacrifices made by our brave service people. I understand these feelings and I too recognise this is not the outcome that was fought for. But those we have lost did not die in vain. In service, they gave hope to a nation. They gave hope to young girls who wanted to be doctors and lawyers. And they gave hope that a country plagued by war and unrest could one day be at peace. This is not a good day for Afghanistan and we look further from that ambition of freedom than perhaps we have ever been, but as long as there is hope, as long as we are still loyal to our friends and allies, our brave men and women died for something worth fighting for.