We are currently watching the biggest British foreign policy disaster since the Suez Crisis of 1956 and Wales has an opportunity to place a key role on the world stage.

The decision for British and US troops to pull out of Afghanistan after 20 years of progress has been undone by the Taliban in just about two weeks. Caught in the ongoing Taliban invasion are innocent civilians. Here in Wales we pride ourselves on being a ‘nation of sanctuary’ but what does that mean?

The UK Government is responsible for asylum policy, which includes asylum application decision making, the provision of support for asylum seekers, and the operation of refugee resettlement schemes.

This means many of the challenges experienced by these communities cannot be fully resolved without policy changes from Westminster.

Currently, the UK Government has accepted a pitiful 2,000 Afghan refugees in comparison with liberal governments like Canada, which is taking on 20,000.

However, there is a substantial amount that the Welsh Government can do and it is unacceptable that our Senedd members have yet to take action in this international emergency. So what should the Senedd be doing to be a world player in this time of crisis?

Refugees and asylum seekers often arrive in Wales following traumatic experiences in their countries of origin and on their journeys to the UK. We must ensure these individuals are supported to recover as best they can and rebuild their lives.

The Senedd has the right to legislate in many of the areas that can put refugees and asylum at ease in Wales such as housing provision, healthcare provision, educational opportunities and more. It should be recalled to set forward an action plan of how we can give these new generations of traumatised Afghans the best welcome and stability that we can.

Too often this falls to councils, non-governmental organisations and charities which creates a postcode lottery.

Ensuring a national response will not only provide more cohesive planning and stability but also use devolution for what it was created to do over 20 years ago: put power in Welsh hands to make the right choices.

This should be spearheaded by the minister for social justice and the minister for health and social services along with their deputies, who at the moment are shamefully nowhere to be seen.

Furthermore, there is the ongoing issue of the paused Chevening Scholarships for Afghan students. Not only should the education secretary be fighting tooth and nail for that to be reversed but if the UK Government does not act, we should be petitioning for those students to come to Wales.

They are some of the brightest minds of our generation and while the UK Government is making a habit of turning its back on academics in the name of banal nationalism. We cannot do the same.


Wales is a nation of compassion, we are historically built on the achievements of refugees and asylum seekers. The Welsh Government should be actively petitioning the Westminster government to take on more Afghan refugees and asylum seekers.

It is not enough to say that we are a nation of sanctuary when we cannot act on that in a time of need and devolution gives us the power to do so. To the critics who say Wales does not have the power to act, I simply put to you that no one in Afghanistan cares about Schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006 but they do care about finding a new home, which we can provide.

This is a British issue but Wales has the chance to innovate in the realm of what we can do with the powers we have to help the Afghan people.

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