Families left questioning death of hero soldiers as Afghanistan is beset by crisis after 20 years military intervention

"What was the sacrifice of life for?"

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 7:14 am

This is the question being asked by bereaved families of Leeds soldiers today as events in Afghanistan continue to unfold with thousands of UK nationals and their allies desperately trying to flee the country in crisis.

The Taliban has taken control following the withdrawal of troops after 20 years in a bid to halt the threat of terror attacks following 9/11. In that time more than 450 British soldiers and personnel have been killed in Afghanistan and with such a rapid change of affairs - the former chairman of West Yorkshire SSAFA, the armed forces charity said bereaved families are asking "what was it all about".

Terry Grayshon, is also a former councillor for Morley - where soldier David Kirkness was from. David was 24 when he was killed by a suicide bomber while manning a checkpoint in the Helmand Provence in December 2009.

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Scenes at the airport in Kabul as Afghans bid to leave the country. Getty Images

My Grayshon told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "It brings back memories for families and raises a number of questions. The situation is a terrible state of affairs, you have to ask yourself why were 450 lives lost and now we are in this position? And that is those who did not come back. There are those who came back injured - physically and mentally - they are seeing this and what will be the impact on these people?

"Families will be asking why did my son die or why did my daughter die? What were they there for? When I was chairman of the armed forces charity, I did a lot of work with bereaved families and for them, the question that is being asked is 'what was it all about, what was the sacrifice of life for'?"

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Leeds MPs call for urgent government action as UK nationals and allies battle to...

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson held a third Cobra meeting in four days last night (Monday) as the desperate struggle to get UK nationals and local allies out of the country continued.

MP Alex Sobel has criticised the government position on Afghanistan.

His official spokesman said the UK will continue the evacuation effort for "as long as we are able to do so and as long as it is safe to do so" as the Government came under fire for the way in which the crisis has been handled.

There were also calls for him to apologise to the families of people who died in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Labour MPs in Leeds said there had been a massive mis-judgement and it was imperative legal asylum routes to the UK were offered - as well as humanitarian care for women and girls.

Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West said: "As Afghanistan collapses, the Government’s silence has been deafening. They have shown a grave misjudgement about the strength of the Afghan Government and speed of the Taliban assault. Now Kabul has fallen it is imperative that the UK grant Visas and offer specific safe and legal asylum routes to the UK as well as supporting Afghans who are fleeing to neighbouring states.

Fabian Hamilton for Leeds East said events in Afghanistan are tragic.

"There must be a coordinated approach from the international community to the changing situation on the ground, and a strategy to try to protect the human rights gains made over the last 20 years. There is a real risk of a humanitarian disaster, particularly for women and girls. It is utterly shameful that the government has slashed development support to the country by 45% just as it faces this grave crisis."

Fabian Hamilton, MP for Leeds North East added: "The tragic events in Afghanistan are a major threat to regional and international peace. It’s disgraceful that the UK Government has slashed development support to the country by 45% at the time it needed it most.

"The priority for the UK must be to show it is taking immediate steps to ensure aid can reach those in need and prevent a humanitarian crisis. The Government has been silent as Afghanistan collapses. It is right that Government has agreed to Labour’s calls to recall Parliament. The Government must explain to MPs how it plans to work with allies to avoid a humanitarian crisis and lay out a strategy to prevent Afghanistan becoming once again a safe haven and operational hub for international terrorism that threatens our national security.”

Andrea Jenkyns, the Conservative representative for Morley and Outwood said it would be wrong of her to speculate on what may be said when Parliament returns early on Wednesday.

She added: "t is my hope that they will provide a clear outline of the situation and what steps they will be taking in the coming days, weeks and months.”