Foreign Office must learn from ‘chaos’ of Kabul in assisting Ukraine – Labour

David Lammy said the first duty of any government ‘is to keep its people safe’.

12 February 2022

Ministers must learn lessons from the “chaos” of the Afghanistan evacuation to help people fleeing Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, Labour has said.

Britons have been told by the Foreign Office to leave Ukraine immediately as fears grow that Russian President Vladimir Putin will order an attack in the coming days.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has faced calls to ensure UK nationals can leave safely, but also to prepare for a vast number of Ukrainian refugees in the event of an invasion.

David Lammy
David Lammy (David Mirzoeff/PA)

With memories still fresh of the challenges faced as MPs tried to help constituents leave Kabul as the Taliban took over, her Labour shadow David Lammy called for a series of assurances.

He asked whether phone lines will be staffed 24/7 so parliamentarians can help constituency cases, if extra resources are in place to process visas, and if embassy staff are being bolstered in neighbouring nations.

Mr Lammy also asked what conversations were being conducted with the UN refugee agency, the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations in the event of “large-scale movements of displaced people”.

“The opposition stands united with the Government in the face of Russian aggression and in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” he wrote.

“However, following the chaos of the evacuation from Afghanistan, we ask the Government for reassurance that the right lessons have been learned.

“The first duty of any government is to keep its people safe. The Government must act now to ensure it is prepared to provide safety for British citizens in case of any incursion.”

Ministers have ruled out RAF airlifts out of Kyiv, as seen in Afghanistan, in part because of the nature of the aerial warfare that would be likely in Ukraine.

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