‘Sleepwalking into crisis’ Gordon Brown warns Afghanistan exit will backfire on West

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Calling the situation in Afghanistan harrowing, the former Labour Prime Minister said that the West was “sleepwalking into the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis of our times”. In an article for Times Red Box, the 70-year-old leader said he feared that abandoning the world’s poorest people would feed “anti-western resentments that may come back to haunt us”.

Mr Brown, the UN special envoy for global education, wrote: “By standing aside, we have not just taken leave of the country.

“Historians will look back and ask whether we have taken leave of our collective senses, doing far too little to ease human suffering.”

He said that thousands of Afghans faced an option to make a choice between starvation and emigration this winter, something that would trigger a “mass exodus” to neighbouring countries and to Europe.

Mr Brown further said that Afghanistan needed the largest humanitarian response ever agreed for a single nation and called for Government backing for a $4.5 billion package drawn up by the UN.

He wrote: “As recently as October, at a G20 meeting, leaders agreed to take action to address the humanitarian crisis, but since then not enough of the promised aid has materialised even through informal and UN channels.

“It took until last week for the United Nations security council to agree a resolution that would exempt humanitarian activities from the UN sanctions regime imposed on Taliban members.

“It cost America trillions to fight the war in Afghanistan. It is not beyond our capacity to find $4 billion to prevent starvation amid this uneasy peace. This tragedy foretold cannot be a tragedy unresolved.”

The UK Government had pledged to welcome 5,000 Afghan refugees in the first year and up to 20,000 in the future after the withdrawal.

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