Andrew Mitchell raised reports of people selling their daughters into early marriage or parting with body organs in a bid to buy food.
09 February 2022
Britain “can and must do more” to respond to the “horrific” humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, a Tory former international development secretary has urged.
Andrew Mitchell welcomed the £286 million of UK aid announced so far but warned it is “not enough”.
He raised reports of people selling their daughters into early marriage or parting with body organs in a bid to provide food for their families.
The UK’s 20-year military mission in Afghanistan ended in August as the Taliban swept to power.
Mr Mitchell, asking an urgent question in the House of Commons, said: “The stark reality is Britain can and must do more to rise to this horrific challenge.
“The inescapable facts are that the Taliban won and we lost, but we have previously promised that the military withdrawal would not be followed by economic and political withdrawal.”
He added: “90% of people in Afghanistan do not have enough to eat, five million are living in camps, four million are just over the border in Iran and they won’t stay there, they will be heading for Europe and Britain before long.
“UN professionals have made clear that 4.4 billion US dollars is required and, typically, fair burden sharing would mean the UK agrees to doing around 10% of this.”
Mr Mitchell said Britain needs to give “oomph” and “vigour” to the global bid to raise more funds for Afghanistan, adding: “It’s not just an appeal to our humanity, it’s firmly and completely in our own national interest.”
For Labour, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said: “This catastrophe will continue to get worse without a coordinated international response.
“It is a moral imperative that we act and we act swiftly to help Afghanistan in a time of its greatest need.”
Foreign Office minister Vicky Ford replied: “We have announced and already spent over £176 million of aid.
“That is supporting over 60 hospitals providing health services to over 300,000 people, ensuring over four million people are getting emergency food assistance, and will provide 6.1 million people with emergency health, water, protection.”
She went on: “That money is going out week by week, month by month so as promised, by the end of this financial year, in the end of March it will have raised the £286 million.
“We also announced £97 million in January… it is incredibly important that we work with partners across the world and support the UN, who have announced the largest ever appeal, and that is why we’re supporting their donor-led conference.”
Sir Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet, said: “What we’re witnessing in Afghanistan is virtually genocide by starvation.
“We cannot in a civilised world allow this to continue.”