Speaking for Ourselves

Our meeting in solidarity with Afghan refugees and communities

Our meeting in solidarity with Afghan refugees and communities


 Migrant Voice - Our meeting in solidarity with Afghan refugees and communities


A strong sense of solidarity and a spirit of welcoming and compassion characterised our meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan on 1 September. 

The Emergency Network Meeting heard stories shared by many Afghan speakers and participants, including a medical student who had fled Afghanistan aged five and a journalist who was recently evacuated to the UK from Kabul.The meeting was attended by over 60 people from the UK and from Europe. 

Speakers from Afghanistan told of their desperation in watching events back in their home country: of how they are unable to help family members, whose lives are now at risk. 

One speaker spoke of their two cousins, both girls, who have now likely been robbed of their hopes and dreams - their futures ripped away so suddenly. 

Meanwhile, the journalist spoke of how her career had been taken from her as she was forced to flee the country, and her fears for the safety of her family who remain in Afghanistan. 

There was collective agreement that the UK government must step up and take in many more Afghans who need protection. Its resettlement scheme was also criticised for not providing enough details to the charities and NGOs supporting Afghan asylum seekers, who are ready and willing to support the resettlement efforts. 

One refugee-led group which supports Afghan families in the West Midlands  told of how Afghans have arrived into the UK with nothing. However, he said that the local community had fortunately stepped up to provide support and donations.

At the same time, a concern was also expressed that the exclusive focus on evacuation and resettlement neglects the desperate situation Afghan asylum seekers in the UK are faced with: the UK could and should be granting protection to those in the territory as a matter of priority so that they can join the efforts to offer welcome to new arrivals too and start family reunification process.  

Campaigners at the meeting called for European governments and countries neighbouring Afghanistan to keep their borders open to allow Afghans fleeing the country to seek sanctuary. 

This criticism was further levelled at governments across Europe, including in Norway, which only evacuated around 1,000 Afghans, and in Sweden. The speaker from Greece raised concern about the dangerous political narratives  of ’Europe is threatened by Afghan asylum seekers', which creates fear, when it is very clear Afghans need protection.The treatment of asylum seekers at European borders was discussed, too, with concerns around evidence of illegal pushbacks. 

Laura Padoan of the UNHCR also provided an update on the situation on the ground and for Afghans in neighbouring countries. The meeting was attended by a large number of members from the RISE Network, an alliance of migrant- and refugee-led non-governmental organisations in Europe, which Migrant Voice is part of and released a joint statement with last month. 

The meeting concluded with messages of support and offers of help, with a shared sense of solidarity around how to continue supporting Afghan people to get to safety.

The speakers were: 

  • Fahim Zazai, Afghan Community and Welfare Centre, Walsall
  • Omid Khyber, Brushstrokes Community Project, Birmingham
  • Laura Padoan, External Relations Officer, UNHCR
  • Nazek Ramadan, Migrant Voice, UK
  • Spogmai Jabarkhil, Scandinavian Afghan Women's Organisation (Norway)
  • Yonous Muhammadi, Greek Forum of Refugees (Greece)
  • Yasamin Saidi, medical student at the University of Manchester
  • Hala Akari,  Swedish Syrian Association (Sweden)
  • A recently arrived Afghan journalist

Get in touch

Migrant Voice
VAI, 200a Pentonville Road,
N1 9JP

Phone: +44 (0) 207 832 5824
Email: [email protected]

Registered Charity
Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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