First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill

The First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have acknowledged the developing refugee crisis in Afghanistan and said the Executive stands ready to do what it can to help.

First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’NeillFirst Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill
First Minister Paul Givan said:

“The pain and suffering we see in Afghanistan – among men, women and children – is truly profound. Northern Ireland has not been found wanting when it comes to those seeking refuge or fleeing persecution. In the wake of the Syrian conflict, Northern Ireland took in more than 1,800 people – a higher proportional share than anywhere else in the UK.

“There has also been an increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving here independently, to seek refugee status due to an ongoing humanitarian crisis around the globe.

“And yet, we have all been moved once again by the scenes in Afghanistan. I am pleased to see a collective will across political parties to address the current situation. We are determined to work with our many partners across society and fellow administrations to offer what sanctuary we can.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:

“It has been distressing to watch the unfolding humanitarian and refugee crisis in Afghanistan, and our hearts go out to the people who are clearly in a desperate situation, particularly the women and girls whose human and civil rights will be under threat.

“Our first instinct – both as politicians and as people – will always be to help those in need. That is why work has been ongoing to scope out what is required, and see what assistance we as an Executive can offer. We will be an important part of the response which will involve organisations at all levels, from the community grass roots right up to global agencies and governments.

“We are offering to help however we can, and we will explore every avenue, to play our part in helping those fleeing Afghanistan.”