Statement on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

21 January 2022

The scale of misery and hunger in Afghanistan this winter is beyond comprehension. The sheer level of this deprivation and the hopelessness that comes with it is causing the world to look away when it most needs to pay attention. The ACAA calls on the international community to reconsider the economic policies implemented towards Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power, and change course to avert massive human losses. A revaluation of existing measures such as sanctions, the suspension of aid and asset-freezing, is urgently needed. 

While the ACAA and NGOs all over the world have been raising money to alleviate the suffering in Afghanistan, we recognise that humanitarian aid can only offer temporary relief from the economic collapse caused by international political issues, and does not represent a long-term solution. The use of political sanctions by the international community to limit human rights abuses by the Taliban is of course justified. But these measures also have disastrous side effects, and are causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

The rights of the Afghan people cannot be secured without the fulfilment of their basic needs. One only needs to look at the number of desperate families forced to sell their young daughters into forced marriage to understand the correlation between the deprivation of basic needs and the violations of fundamental rights. Afghans are trapped in a vicious cycle, with material deprivation and human rights abuses fuelling each other.

Prior to the Taliban’s return to power, foreign aid represented as much as 43% of Afghanistan’s GDP. Therefore, its total withdrawal has been a core cause of economic collapse. Meanwhile, the freezing of assets means that government money is no longer available. Public sector workers have not been paid for months. Recently, an ACAA volunteer in Afghanistan reported the story of a police officer who was forced to flee the country with his wife and young child because he had not received his salary for months. With his young child suffering from malnutrition, he had no choice but to make the dangerous journey to Iran. 

Economic measures are a blunt instrument for securing human rights in an autocratic state. This was clear with the UN Security Council’s sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1990s in response to his atrocities against the country’s minorities. The punishing measures, intended to help the population, resulted in hunger, an epidemic of water-borne disease, and the collapse of the health and education systems in a once vibrant country. Several high ranking United Nations officials working in the country resigned to express their disagreement with the policy, with the in-country UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Dennis Halliday stating “I don’t want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide“. The sanctions failed to secure the desired political outcomes because while the population struggled, Saddam’s government continued to live in relative luxury. The human misery brought by non-targeted economic measures is a lesson that must be heeded in Afghanistan. 

The ACAA joins other organisations such as Amnesty International in their call for more practical solutions to the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. We are specifically asking the UK government to work with the US and with Afghanistan’s wealthy neighbours to release funds from the World Bank, pledge further aid and unfreeze government assets. While this approach may feel counterintuitive to liberally minded leaders who rightly abhor the Taliban’s rule, this crisis now calls for a pragmatic response to save lives. Every day that this truth continues to be ignored, the resulting human losses and regional instability worsen. Now is the time to make bold decisions.

ACAA Media Coverage

18 November 2021

 

A thin – stretched welcome for Britain’s new Afghan arrivals –  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/28/a-thin-stretched-welcome-for-britains-new-afghan-arrivals

Afghans in Britain left ‘terrified’ for loved ones as Taliban takes control –

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/afghans-britain-terrified-loved-ones-taliban-take-control-b950914.html

British Afghans reveal their fears for relatives back home as they help nelwy arrived refugees –

https://inews.co.uk/news/british-afghans-kabul-reveal-fears-for-relatives-back-home-they-help-newly-arrived-refugees-1181746

Afghans in UK speak of frustrations they face trying to help family –

https://www.ft.com/content/c497819d-5faf-41a7-8bb0-acee80ad65c6

The ‘single most helpful’ thing londoners can do to support refugees from Afghanistan –

https://www.mylondon.news/news/uk-world-news/single-most-helpful-thing-londoners-21539586

Afghan refugee with fiancee trapped in Middle east hopes to bring her to UK –

https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/uk-news/2021/09/01/afghan-refugee-with-fiancee-trapped-in-middle-east-hopes-to-bring-her-to-uk/

UK’s Afghan Centre engulfed by enquiries from worried loved ones –

https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/uk-news/2021/08/24/uks-afghan-centre-engulfed-by-enquiries-from-worried-loved-ones/

Feltham charity to help Afghan refugees –

https://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/19652336.hounslow-charity-help-afghan-refugees/

‘I cant see them die’: British Afghan doctor in desperate plea to get family out of Kabul.

https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/i-cant-see-die-british-21418023

Charity for Afghan refugees ‘overwhelmed’ by donations

Hounslow Afghanistan charity, ACAA, giving hope to thousands of Afghan refugees –

https://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/19684006.hounslow-afghanistan-charity-acaa-giving-hope-thousands-afghan-refugees-imogen-ioannilli/

https://www.thearticle.com/the-unbearable-sadness-of-being-the-plight-of-the-afghans

https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/1000-calls-600-people-queuing-21411336

October Newsletter

02 November 2021

Our monthly newsletter is back so you can see everything we we have been up to! Since the crisis in Afghanistan, our projects were momentarily put on hold, but are now back up and running and we can’t wait for you to hear all about them

Click here for the October Newsletter

Covid-19 Statement

05 August 2021

As we enter another month of UK-wide lockdown, we are only too aware that isolation has been difficult for many of our beneficiaries. We have found it hugely frustrating ourselves not being able to host a regular cycle of in-person events at our Feltham Centre; however, we are still able to provide a great deal of assistance online and over the phone. If you need help, please contact us.

Unlike in previous lockdowns, there are now significant grounds for optimism owing to the UK’s ongoing vaccination roll-out. So far, the results have been overwhelmingly positive and reassuring. The vaccines are highly effective at reducing the rates of infection, illness, and hospitalisation from COVID-19.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, for instance, has confirmed almost 100% protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death in its final analysis. This has allowed the government to plan for the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions.

As with previous national vaccination programmes in the UK, reported vaccine uptake has been lower amongst BAME communities, which is particularly concerning given that many of these groups are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. A recent UK poll conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health suggests that only 57% of respondents from minority ethnic groups were likely to accept a vaccine, compared with 79% of White respondents (with only 55% of respondents of Asian ethnicity likely to say yes). There are various factors which explain this trend, including a higher perception of risk, a general distrust in public healthcare, and an increased susceptibility to misinformation surrounding vaccinations.

As a community organisation, we at the ACAA would like to emphasise the safety and importance of the vaccination programme to all our beneficiaries. For those who have reservations about being vaccinated, we would like to reassure you by debunking any myths and pointing out the relevant facts.

For example, many people fear that a vaccine will make them ill because they are injected with a germ; however, this is not what happens with a COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, a new type of Messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA) has been deployed, one which gives instructions to our body’s cells on how to make proteins that trigger an immune response. This response is what then protects you from the COVID-19 virus if you are exposed.

For this reason, it is vital that you protect yourself and others by having the vaccine as soon as possible. You will be called forward in your local area over the comings months once it is time for your age-group to be vaccinated. For more information, please visit the UK Government website.

As we look forward to better times, the ACAA would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your continuous support, without which we would not be able to serve our beneficiaries and the wider community.