Statement on Afghanistan
Updated: Aug 19, 2021
It has been deeply saddening to see the consequences of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. For the 20 years that have elapsed since the atrocity of 9/11, the UK and US fought alongside our NATO allies to destroy Al-Qaeda and terrorist groups who carried out attacks across the West. We completed that mission some years ago, but we stayed to help Afghan's political leaders set the country on a better path.
In many regards, the second part of the mission was a success - we helped the country rebuild after an Islamist dictatorship, created the institutions a country needs to prosper and liberated women and girls. Afghanistan has changed. But the Taliban takeover directly threatens this progress. That's why the US withdrawal - which unstuck the glue holding the international coalition together - is to be deeply regretted.
I do believe the UK and our brave Armed Forces can be proud of our efforts in Afghanistan. Undoubtedly the UK is safer because of it and the Taliban will struggle to undo all the progress made. But I know this crisis evokes difficult memories for all those who served in Afghanistan, their families and the entire Armed Forces community. To them I say: please reach out, there is support available, and you are not alone.
The UK has a responsibility to help the many Afghans who fought and worked with us to fight terrorism and rebuild the country. Through the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, we are relocating those under threat in return for the help they offered the UK during the past twenty years.
In addition, the UK will establish a new Afghanistan Citizens' Resettlement Scheme to resettle those who face persecution from the Taliban. This scheme will prioritise women and girls, helping those most at risk from the Taliban and in genuine need of asylum. There will also be strict security checks so as not to compromise our national security.
But we must do more. That's why the Prime Minister set out today the government's plans to lead the international and diplomatic effort to hold the Taliban to account on terrorism, human rights and protections for women, girls, and minorities. We will do this through our country's position on the G7, NATO and UN Security Council.
Over 20 years, we destroyed terrorist groups who threatened our country and put Afghanistan on a better path. The US withdrawal puts that progress at risk - but if we rally the international community, we can prevent the Taliban from offering safe harbour to terrorists and eroding human rights in Afghanistan. That's the UK's new diplomatic mission.