Earlier today, Layla Moran MP, Tobias Ellwood MP and Sarah Champion MP urgently wrote to Dominic Raab urging the UK Government to reverse its decision to not give visas to Chevening scholars still in Afghanistan. The text of the letter is below:
15 August 2021
Dear Foreign Secretary,
We write to you urgently regarding the Chevening scholarship programme.
We were deeply disappointed to read reports that your department has paused the Chevening programme for Afghan recipients of a scholarship.
The receipt of a Chevening scholarship can be transformative. The long-standing and prestigious scheme is a fantastic example of the positive difference which the UK can and does make around the world.
To prevent Afghan citizens from taking part in the programme this year would be unconscionable. The withdrawal of US and other coalition forces has created the conditions in which our Embassy is unable to process visa applications for Chevening scholars. It is hugely unfair for Afghan scholars to be ruled out of the scheme this year as a direct result of our actions.
It is also important to consider the broader implications of our withdrawal from Afghanistan. After twenty years in the country, the nature of our withdrawal has created the conditions for the Taliban to sweep through the nation’s cities. We are watching the gains we made being reversed with startling rapidity. At this desperate time, the very least we can do is to honour our promises to those who we pledged to support - be it those Afghan interpreters and other locally employed staff who helped our troops, or those whom we awarded the opportunity to come and study in the UK.
We appreciate the logistical complications posed by the withdrawal of coalition forces and the advance of the Taliban. We urge you to go to any lengths necessary to ensure that whatever processing capabilities were reserved to the embassy in Kabul can be transferred to an alternative location.
We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.
Layla Moran MP
Sarah Champion MP
Tobias Ellwood MP