ONE year ago, the scenes we saw unfolding in Afghanistan were a stark reminder of just how quickly any of us could be forced to flee our homes.

Nobody expected the Taliban takeover to happen as quickly as it did and our international leaders were simply unprepared to respond to the crisis appropriately.

Tragically, the reality of daily life has not improved for most Afghans over the past 12 months. Thousands of people are living in truly dire circumstances of oppression and poverty. Recent reports of the standards of medical care available to ordinary families should shock us all.

I know how it feels to be forced to leave everything behind in search of safety. I fled Afghanistan in 1999 and arrived in the UK off my own back. There was no organised scheme to help me. More than 20 years later, there are still no functioning safe routes to sanctuary for people seeking safety from Afghanistan. This is simply unacceptable.

Every day I wake to messages on my phone from people in desperate need of protection, who risked their lives for democracy and justice. They are still in hiding with no clear ways for them to find safety. People are worried for their lives and those of their families and children.

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The UK made a commitment to Afghanistan last year, a commitment it sadly has not fulfilled. The next Conservative Party leader, and our next prime minister, must renew that pledge.

I call on the next prime minister to go beyond paying lip service to supporting the people of Afghanistan and to take meaningful action. This must include The Home Office fast tracking the asylum claims of people from Afghanistan given their reasons for claiming asylum could not be clearer; scrapping cruel rules around inadmissibility which deny protection to people simply because of the route they took to reach the UK; and reviving and expanding the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).

The UK evacuated people from Afghanistan in the days and weeks immediately following the Taliban takeover. I’m sure we all remember the deeply upsetting scenes at Kabul airport as desperate people tried to flee.

But the UK only evacuated people who had worked with the UK Government, selecting them using extremely strict criteria. Even some of those who had worked with the UK and whose lives were in direct danger were left behind.

The UK Government later announced it would launch the ACRS to bring more ordinary Afghans to safety here in the UK. This scheme effectively has not materialised and has helped a vanishingly small number of people.

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It is frankly insulting that the Home Secretary made headlines by committing to bring 20,000 people to safety and has taken almost no action to make these headlines a reality.

The UK Government must revive and expand the ACRS to bring more people to safety in the UK.

It is taking an ever more punitive approach to immigration and asylum. Its Nationality and Borders Bill, the anti-refugee bill, criminalised the very act of seeking asylum in this country. This breaches international law and is a shockingly callous piece of law from a country which wants to be seen as “Global Britain”.

The people of Afghanistan needed help one year ago. The UK Government did not step up to meet its moral responsibility then. But the people of Afghanistan are still in need of help and safe routes to sanctuary.

I urge the UK Government to take this moment to change course and offer a response to the crisis in Afghanistan of which we can all be proud.

Sabir Zazai is chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council