Hazara Population in Afghanistan

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

What diplomatic steps he is taking to protect the Hazara population in Afghanistan.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

We have consistently urged the Afghan Government to protect the rights of all ethnic and religious groups, including the Hazaras, in line with the Afghan constitution. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is deeply concerned by recent reports of security incidents affecting the Hazara community, particularly in Ghazni and Uruzgan. We will continue to call on all parties to the conflict to protect the civilian population.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

Recently, Hazaras lobbied me and other hon. Members, saying that they are now in deep fear of an ISIS attack. This comes after they have suffered massacres at the hands of the Taliban, and they have a history of being the subject of genocidal attacks by other ethnic groups in Afghanistan. Given the amount of money we have put into Afghanistan, can the Minister not do more?

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

We fully understand the deep concerns about civilian casualties and displacement and, as the hon. Gentleman rightly says, the threat from not only the Taliban but potentially ISIS, too. Only last week, staff from the British embassy in Kabul met Hazara representatives for Ghazni from the Afghan Government, to hear those concerns at first hand. The Afghan national defence and security forces are working to stabilise the security situation, and of course they do that in tandem with UK forces.

Photo of Adrian Bailey Adrian Bailey Labour/Co-operative, West Bromwich West

In the light of the recent Taliban offensive and the atrocities that occurred as a result and bearing in mind the deep insecurity currently felt by the Hazara community, what additional support is NATO’s resolute support mission contributing to the Hazaras’ safety?

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

We are obviously working together with many of our allies, particularly at NATO level. NATO’s resolute support mission is helping Afghans to build their own self-standing capability and capacity. We very much hope to see the fruits of that in the years to come with the Afghan national defence and security forces. That work is happening in several parts of Afghanistan. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we are obviously concerned about the humanitarian side, particularly when we see civilian populations under threat. This is going to be a long haul. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that, working together with allies and the US in particular, we are no longer governed by an electoral timetable. We want to leave the country in a better place, which means working to build up that capacity.