The International Community Must Do More for Vulnerable Afghans

Aspen Ministers Forum Statement — 20 August 2021

As former Foreign Ministers who have been involved with the international mission in Afghanistan, we have watched the rapidly deteriorating situation there with utmost concern. Tens of thousands of Afghans who supported the international community’s work and objectives in the country are now at grave risk. Many have sought to leave the country but have been unable to do so and are now effectively trapped behind Taliban lines. We call upon our leaders to act together with purpose and urgency to evacuate these Afghan allies and avert a broader humanitarian catastrophe.

The international community must use all its leverage to pressure the Taliban to allow Afghan and international citizens to depart the country through a safe and orderly process, with established corridors for unobstructed passage. The evacuation effort currently underway at Hamid Karzai International Airport, led by the United States, must be significantly expanded and continue until all foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghans are successfully airlifted out of the country. The urgency of the situation demands concerted action to overcome all bureaucratic and operational hurdles to an organized mass evacuation. Further delays will create a crisis of confidence and worsen the chaos on the ground.

A successful evacuation of our Afghan allies also requires countries which have invested in Afghanistan to step forward with offers of tangible and coordinated humanitarian support. In particular, there is an urgent need for more countries to commit to hosting our Afghan allies, with some places acting as temporary transit sites and others accepting refugees on a permanent basis through the resettlement process. We commend the nations which have already publicly stated their intention to host evacuated Afghan civilians. Every country that supported the international mission must do its part and we call on all of our leaders to demonstrate the solidarity this moment demands.

This humanitarian crisis serves as a first critical test of the new Afghan governing authority. We urge the creation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan that upholds the 2004 Afghan Constitution’s guarantees of human rights, women’s rights, and minority rights. We call on our successors to make clear that future diplomatic recognition of a new authority in Afghanistan is predicated on upholding these basic constitutional protections.

Going forward, even as we work to evacuate those whose lives are directly imperiled by the Taliban, we cannot forget the millions of Afghans, especially women and girls, who risk losing the considerable gains made over two decades of sacrifice. We will not abandon or forget the people of Afghanistan. We will do our part to ensure that their humanitarian needs remain at the center of the international agenda.

Madeleine K. Albright
United States of America
Susana Malcorra
Argentina
Lloyd Axworthy
Canada
Don McKinnon
New Zealand
María Eugenia Brizuela de Avila
El Salvador
Daniel Mitov
Belgium
Erik Derycke
Belgium
Amre Moussa
Egypt
Lamberto Dini
Italy
Marwan Muasher
Jordan
Alexander Downer
Australia
George Papandreou
Greece
Jan Eliasson
Sweden
Lydie Polfer
Luxembourg
Joschka Fischer
Germany
Malcolm Rifkind
United Kingdom
Jaime Gama
Portugal
Claudia Ruiz Massieu
Mexico
Igor Ivanov
Russia
Jozias van Aartsen
Netherlands
Kang Kyung-wha
South Korea
Hubert Védrine
France
Tzipi Livni
Israel
Knut Vollebæk
Norway

Photo: A father and his kids awaiting assistance in a refugee camp in Sheberghan, Afghanistan in 2018 (Amors photos / Shutterstock.com)

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