Evacuations from Afghanistan

Clive Lewis in Afghanistan with local children
Clive Lewis in Afghanistan with local children. Photo: Clive Lewis

Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis posted a heartfelt message to his Twitter followers about the evacuations from Afghanistan.

Lewis served in Afghanistan in 2009 for three months as a former territorial army officer. He recently went on record slamming the government for slashing overseas aid. For Afghanistan, it represents a cut of 78 percent.

At the weekend, the government made the decision to recall all MPs from their summer recess as the situation in Afghanistan rapidly deteriorated. In a debate in the House of Commons that lasted over seven hours yesterday, Lewis was not selected to speak. So he posted this Twitter thread instead.

Twitter thread

I was disappointed to not be selected to speak in the debate on Afghanistan today. I served there in 2009. This doesn’t make me an expert on that country, but it does – like others who’ve worked or served there – give a perspective I hoped would be useful in deliberations.

I have intense pride in the good and decent men and women I served with, both British and Afghan. Many of them paid physically and mentally for their efforts on our behalf. And of course, others – too many – never returned home at all.

Unlike some that spoke today, I was never certain of the legitimacy of our presence in Afghanistan. I wanted to believe I was there for the right reasons – but it’s hard to convince yourself of that cause when you witness first-hand the human toll of your presence.

Injured child

Like the 15-year-old Afghan boy and his father I met seeking medical treatment. He had a bloodied stump where his foot should have been, accidentally shot-off by NATO forces. His is one story, but it is etched into my memory. A vivid, human face of the suffering of so many.

And yet he was lucky, if such an injury can ever be described as such. According to Brown University, a quarter of a million people have died as a direct result of the last twenty years of war in Afghanistan.

Our failure doesn’t end there. I remember telling myself before deploying that I was going to help rebuild Afghanistan and in so doing help its people. And yet Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

It has the second highest level of emergency food insecurity in the world. 40 percent of the population are without a job, and almost 70 percent live below the poverty line.

Afghanistan: a broken country

So here we find ourselves: hundreds of thousands dead, a brutal Taliban regime and its ideology again in control, a broken country on the brink of starvation, and a refugee crisis that will destabilise the entire region yet further.

We can wrap that harsh reality up however we wish. We can tell ourselves it was the right thing to do – like we told ourselves in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and countless other military interventions.

Or we can face the honest truth that we must find new and better ways of solving the world’s geo-political problems. With the climate crisis upon us and the instability it will cause, failure to do so will be a terminal error.

Government plan urged

In the immediate future, it is our responsibility to provide much needed security to those now at risk from being targeted by the Taliban. So, I have asked the Government to urgently publish a plan for how those seeking asylum will be evacuated.

Clive Lewis letter to Raab
Letter to Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab

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