This week's MP's column comes from Bradford East MP Imran Hussain

THE Government’s treatment of vulnerable Afghans leaves me sick, but Bradford’s gives me hope.

Over the last fortnight, we have all seen the situation in Afghanistan rapidly deteriorate, with many Afghanis and British nationals in the country desperate to flee, and in these two weeks, hundreds of my constituents in Bradford have been in touch, urging me desperately to help save their friends and family in Afghanistan whose lives they are now deeply fearful for.

Any constituent coming to see me as a last resort with nowhere else to turn is a harrowing experience, but the fact that so many spoke of their relatives whilst close to tears, with fear in their eyes, leaves me absolutely furious that the Government have handled the evacuation in such a chaotic and damningly negligent way, and furious that so many vulnerable people remain in Afghanistan having been left behind by this Government.

Indeed, it is hardly possible for the Government to have handled this crisis and the evacuation in a worse way at every step along the way than they did.
Nothing makes this wilful negligence clearer than what happened with the enquiries sent to the Home Office, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

As MPs were flooded with cases of British nationals in the country, of those who desperately needed to be evacuated, and of constituents worried about relatives, we were instructed by Ministers to direct everything to dedicated email inboxes.

Yet as the Observer reported, these Ministers failed to ensure that over 5,000 of these critical and urgent enquiries were actually opened, let alone read and actioned.

Even today, I have still received no response for the vast majority of the countless cases that I raised, and I can still offer no comfort to so many who beg for updates on their relatives.

This failure to take action and provide an update on so many critical cases is on its own damning enough for the Government in giving false hope to people, but it’s made worse by the fact that throughout the crisis, the Home Office’s own emergency Afghanistan aid hotline redirected callers to a washing machine repair company in Coventry.

This is not the action of a Government that cares about the people fleeing Afghanistan, and whilst Ministers say it happened “mistakenly”, given the Home Secretary’s repeated disdain shown towards refugees and the fact that the Home Office was the architect of the hostile environment, I sadly find it hard to believe.

However, amongst the many awful, tragic cases that I’ve been dealing with, it has been two specific cases where people were forcefully ejected from Kabul Airport without explanation and thrown into the streets which just hours before had been the scene of a horrific suicide bomb attack that has left me particularly angered at the way the Government have let the evacuation unfold, and angered at their conduct when I desperately tried to resolve the situation directly with Ministers themselves.

Unbelievably, one of the people in these cases was actually a British national and another was the young wife of a British national with two young children, one of whom was just seven months old, and in both cases, they were ready to board their flight.

They were just metres away from the aircraft after passing all the preceding checks just to get into the airport, and words simply cannot describe my disbelief and shock at the Government forcing vulnerable people into such danger.

As if seeking to deliberately make the situation worse, the Foreign Secretary refused to cut short his holiday and refused to make a crucial call at a critical time to the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.

He also failed to make calls over recent months to the Foreign Ministers of countries neighbouring Afghanistan whose goodwill and cooperation would be vital for even an orderly withdrawal, let alone the panicked one that took place over the last fortnight.

However, throughout this crisis, what doesn’t leave me angered and instead leaves me immensely proud and washes away my fury at the Government is the way in which Bradford is already preparing to welcome those fleeing Afghanistan, with charities taking donations and numerous community groups getting ready for the first arrivals.  

As a proud City of Sanctuary, members of the Afghan community that fled to the UK in recent years have already made their home here and have made positive contributions to Bradford with a vibrant Afghan community across our city, and as we have done for decades, we stand ready to welcome those with nowhere else to go.