We at the Young Academy of Scotland write in solidarity with the citizens of Afghanistan, who in the past week have lived a rapidly changing situation, which has seen the displacement of millions of Afghan citizens following Taliban seizure of the Afghan capital, Kabul. As an international-facing academy committed to creating an equitable, smarter and healthier world for Scotland and international citizens, we are appalled by the abhorrent injustice and inequalities the Taliban invasion has created.
The world is witnessing a humanitarian crisis threatening the lives, freedoms and basic human rights of the Afghan population, compounded by the ongoing devastating impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Afghan women, girls and indigenous groups representing diverse cultural backgrounds once more find themselves victims of long-term war, political and socioeconomic instability threatening the very basic freedoms of education, employment, and healthcare. The current crisis is reversing the advances made in the past two decades in creating equity in employment, education and basic human rights for Afghan people.
We cannot sit silently and witness Afghan nationals – our brothers and sisters – suffer the injustices, harms and terror induced by the Taliban. The international community has a moral duty to safeguard Afghan citizens. We thereby call for the following actions:
- We call on the UK government and its devolved nations to provide refuge for displaced Afghan citizens.
- The UK Government must improve its commitment to refugee resettlement and commit to hastening a sizeable resettlement process in the immediate term. At least 20,000 in the first year, rather than the initial 20,000 over 5 years pledged by the UK Government.
- We ask neighbouring countries to keep their borders open to ensure safe migration of refugees fleeing from Kabul.
- We urge resolution of the political crisis that has led to the tragic displacement and separation of Afghan families. We ask the UK Government to ensure safeguarding and access to education for unaccompanied children and young people.
- No Afghan students shall be subject to any restrictions or pause to their education in relation to their student visas or UK scholarships.
- Afghans scholars and academics at risk of harm must be provided protection without delay.
- We ask international and UK organizations to support the needs of the Afghan people in the form of access to sanitation, education, healthcare, and shelter.
- We call on the delivery of an emergency COVID-19 immunization programme for the displaced Afghan citizens to reduce the catastrophic effects of the ongoing crisis.
The Young Academy of Scotland will continue to proactively recruit Afghan professionals and academic scholars through our at-risk academics and refugees initiative so that Afghanistan’s top researchers and practitioners are empowered to make outstanding contributions to the prosperity of Scotland and the world.
This statement has been written by individual YAS members and members of the YAS Facilitating Group. It does not necessarily represent the views of all YAS members.