Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Helping those in Afghanistan

I have just returned from Pakistan and Afghanistan, as part of a Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry into British policy in the region.

Afghanistan has been fought over for centuries and it remains one of the poorest countries in the world. It is also a major poppy growing area: most of the world's opium comes from Afghanistan.

This, in turn, feeds corruption at every level, as well as funding the Taliban insurrection against the government.

The Taliban is composed of extremist Islamic groups dedicated to the overthrow of the Afghanistan government. They use that cruellest of all weapons, the suicide bomber. They believe that no women should be educated and to that end they blow up schools and kill teachers.

We visited Fedowsi High School to see what is being done – 5,300 girls of all ages are now being educated there. Classrooms are in short supply so they work a shift system, with the youngest pupils starting at 6.30am.

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Many of the classes were in English and the curriculum includes science. There is no way that the keen young pupils I saw will accept the Taliban message of ignorance and subjection when they grow up.

British schools are starting to link up with some in Afghanistan. Do any in the Wells constituency want to get involved? It is a difficult and far away country but much can be done by video, internet and correspondence. I can help if any are interested.

Aid and support should not be left to governments alone.

If any Somerset town wants to get involved, there is plenty of need in Afghanistan.

David Heathcoat-Amory

MP for Wells

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