An open letter has been written by 60 civil society organisations and leading individuals calling with one voice for the government to increase its efforts when it comes to the crisis in Afghanistan. Here is the letter:
Open letter to Nanaia Mahuta, minister of foreign affairs
Tēnā koe Minister Mahuta,
We write to you as a collective voice of organisations and individuals in Aotearoa advocating for the rights and protection of Afghan nationals. We welcome the statements New Zealand has made at the United Nations and the efforts taken to evacuate people. However, more action is needed. As a society that values compassion and kindness, we need to ensure that our response meets the scale of the crisis.
The needs in Afghanistan are growing by the hour. Right now, there are compounding crises taking place, including hunger, displacement, conflict and Covid-19. Basic services are collapsing, and aid is running out. There are ongoing reports of gross human rights abuses. Women, children and those who have worked to promote human rights, democracy and education are among the people most at risk. Urgent action is needed to prevent an even greater humanitarian disaster and to ensure that every individual has their rights and dignity upheld.
We are concerned that, alongside causing anguish, delays in government action and decisions increase risk of harm to those who need aid from, or safe resettlement to, New Zealand. We collectively call on the government to:
1. Urgently increase humanitarian and development support. The government must:
- At least double aid to Afghanistan to support local organisations; and
- Increase humanitarian aid to surrounding countries that are taking in refugees.
2. Establish and ensure safe pathways of relocation and resettlement for Afghan nationals to New Zealand.
Over 21,000 people across Aotearoa have come together to call on the government to take action to help people fleeing Afghanistan. We implore the government to:
- Evacuate the remaining people in Afghanistan left from the initial mission, and include at-risk individuals connected to New Zealand in these efforts;
- Welcome at least 1,500 Afghan refugees in this year’s (July 1 2021-June 30 2022) current refugee intake, over and above the current refugee resettlement quota commitments, for those at most immediate risk or with connections to Aotearoa;
- Expedite visa processing of both the refugee family support category (RFSC) visas and critical purpose visitor visas;
- Create or re-establish additional humanitarian pathways to support the reunification of families of Afghan New Zealanders not already lodged with RFSC; and
- Utilise and expand the community sponsorship scheme to create more viable routes for people to come to New Zealand.
3. Establish formal mechanisms to liaise and consult meaningfully with the Afghan community here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
It is essential that the government increases its efforts to listen to, support and provide relief to New Zealand’s Afghan community. We stand with the 6,000 Afghan New Zealanders, many who worry for the safety of their families and neighbours.
4. Lead international efforts. The government must:
- Take concrete measures to enact the prime minister’s commitment “to reassure Afghan women and girls that we will closely follow the developments in their country, listen to their voices, and continue to support their rights and opportunities”.
- Drive agreement in the international community to establish a robust investigative mechanism – with a mandate to document, collect and preserve evidence of ongoing crimes and human rights violations across Afghanistan.
Your government is perceived to be one that practises kindness and is committed to collective action for the betterment of humanity, yet other countries have taken significant steps to address the need for international support and assistance, while New Zealand has not. Canada has announced the resettlement of up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghan nationals and the UK has committed to accepting 20,000 Afghan refugees. The US is expected to admit 50,000 Afghan refugees and has set aside a US$500 million fund that will help meet urgent migration needs. European countries and our Australian neighbours are also taking steps. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is seeking US$606 million to assist nearly 11 million people during the four remaining months of this year. What is required is an international collaborative effort.
The New Zealand government spent 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars in military expenditure as part of the international intervention in Afghanistan. We have an obligation to the people of Afghanistan to stand by them now. Be it the provision of aid, or safe pathways to New Zealand, the time for response is immediate and the cost of inaction is high.
We now call on you to do more.
Youtube talks on Afghanistan:
Tony Green sent me two amazing Youtube talks on Afghanistan. The first is a commentary by a former British soldier who served in Afghanistan. Here it is:
The second is from George Monbiot, on the media and war. It’s a raw commentary on George’s observation of laying the blame not on those who stopped the war. He focuses on those who started it with no plans of how to get out. He also berates the media who assisted the war mongering by politicians by revelling in the drama. This is a very good commentary on the futility of war.