Dáil debates

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Afghanistan Crisis: Statements


6:12 pm

Photo of Paul DonnellyPaul Donnelly (Dublin West, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I echo the comments of previous Deputies about the Irish Refugee Council and some of the requests it has made with regard to this situation. We all have seen the horrors on our television screens. We have seen the desperation of people who are trying to get out of Afghanistan and who are facing the Taliban, particularly in the scenes at Kabul Airport in the final days of the American occupation. There is no doubt that the situation in Afghanistan at the moment is extremely worrying but it is even more worrying for the Afghan people who are now Irish citizens and who call Ireland their home. Their neighbours, friends and family members have been executed in front of their families because they have worked for western companies, the Americans or NATO since the Taliban fell in the early 2000s. These Irish citizens are anxious for their families to be airlifted out of what is now essentially a war zone.

A constituent of mine contacted me in the last day or so. In her own words, she said:

Afghanistan is under the control of the Taliban; my family is dying and are endangered. I feel extremely helpless and I am reaching out to you for emergency humanitarian reasons. I need emergency visas for my family. This is an opportunity for Ireland to provide shelter for people in need. This opportunity is worth’s a person’s life. The situation is extremely dangerous. Their main targets are women and schools.

It would be wrong not to take this time to talk about the disastrous war, led by the US, which led to this situation. Afghanistan is a glaring example of the disastrous foreign policy of a series of American administrations and presidents. It is clear this policy is certainly not led by any desire for peacekeeping if you look at the trail of death and destruction left across the Middle East and in Afghanistan. It is mind-boggling. I recently watched a programme on Netflix which provided a really deep history of what had happened since 9/11 and even previously, during the Russian occupation. It is mind-boggling that in the 20 years the Americans were in Afghanistan, the US spent close to $3 trillion and yet Afghanistan's infrastructure, economy, health system and education system are in a complete and utter state of collapse. They were never developed, or certainly not while the Americans or Russians were there. This is not due to the Taliban but due to the American Government's corrupt funnelling of those trillions of dollars to Afghan warlords and then back out to its friends in the US. American taxpayers' money was effectively laundered through Afghanistan before being returned to the massive American military-industrial complex.

The primary responsibility for the horrors the Afghan people now face rests with the Taliban fair and square. However, the American Government and its allies also bear great responsibility. It is our moral responsibility to help the Afghan people, like my constituent who now lives and works in our community. I ask the Minister and his office to ensure that the family members of citizens are prioritised as a matter of urgency. We also need to use our seat on the UN Security Council to provide whatever aid we can to the people of Afghanistan, whether through humanitarian support, the provision of emergency visas or relocation and resettlement schemes. I welcome the moves made in recent days to accept more Afghan people who have family connections here. As I have said, it is important that conversations are had with the Irish Refugee Council about the ways in which we can make it easier for people to come to Ireland. I genuinely hope that there will be some respite for the people of Afghanistan, particularly the girls and women who now face weeks, months, years or possibly decades of absolutely horrific oppression. I hope we do something. We in this House, and this Government, have a responsibility to support the people of Afghanistan.


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