Bereaved families of NI soldiers must be heartbroken as Taliban take back control of Afghanistan

Families, such as those of a young Coleraine man killed in Afghanistan, will be heartbroken to watch the Taliban regain power, according to a local MLA.

Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 10:45 am
Aaron McCormick, 22, from Co Londonderry, was killed in Afghanistan on Remembrance Sunday in 2010. Photo credit: MoD/PA Wire

Aaron McCormick, 22, was one of 10 soldiers with connections to Northern Ireland who died in combat operations.

The young Ranger from the 1st Battalion of The Royal Irish Regiment had been helping to clear the Nad ‘Ali region of Helmand of improvised explosive devices during a security patrol in when he was killed in an explosion on November 14, 2010.

East Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden expected that the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban will leave some bereaved families of service personnel questioning the conflict.

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Doug Beattie while serving with the Royal Irish in Helmand Province.

She said: “When families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan see the Taliban sweep to power after nearly 20 years of conflict some must naturally be questioning the sacrifice made.

“Aaron’s death devastated his family and the scenes of the Taliban regaining power must be heart-breaking for anyone with a connection to the fighting.

“These men and women fought and died to improve the security of the world and for the freedom of the Afghan people.”

Many Afghan civilians now faced an uncertain future, particularly women, children and those who worked with the democratic government and allied forces, the independent MLA said.

“After such a long campaign that improved the lives of many normal people in the country, the seeming abandonment by allied and Afghan forces is difficult to watch as civilians desperately struggle to leave,” Ms Sugden continued.

“Northern Ireland and the UK need to do whatever they can to ensure the security of any Afghans who have put themselves in potential danger by supporting the democratic government for the last 20 years. If that means granting them asylum then that must be pursued as a matter of urgency.”

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Northern Ireland soldiers who were killed while serving in Afghanistan

Doug Beattie echoed Ms Sugden’s words, urging the Stormont Executive to provide homes for Afghans who helped allied forces.

The Ulster Unionist leader, who won the Military Cross for his service in Afghanistan, said NI should offer a home to those who need it having fled the country.

He said: “A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Afghanistan, thousands are fleeing the country: women, young girls and men, those who worked with us and those who worked for us.

“It’s important now that Northern Ireland, along with the rest of the international community, come together to support these people, and if they need a home then it is important that we here in Northern Ireland open our doors and give them a home.

“In our time of need they supported us, in their time of need, we must support them.”

MPs are to debate the situation in Afghanistan on Wednesday in the House of Commons.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson earlier said Northern Ireland has a duty to consider offering sanctuary to some refugees from Afghanistan.

He told the BBC he feared there would be “terrible consequences from the Taliban” for people who “very courageously worked alongside our military”.

Meanwhile an Afghan man who now lives and works in Belfast as a taxi driver said he is worried about family living under Taliban rule.

Ahmed Khorami, 47, lived in Kabul for most of his life until moving to Belfast in 2000.

He told yesterday’s Good Morning Ulster programme: “I’m so unhappy I don’t know what’s going to happen to my own family in Afghanistan, what will happen to our people.

“My brother is there, my sisters are there, my mother is there. I worry about everybody, not only my own family.

“I love my country, the UK is my second home. I have my children and wife here with me, but my heart is still there.

“I never thought, and no Afghan thought, a day like today would come. We were happy, we were hopeful.

“[The Taliban] are the same people they were 20 years ago. They didn’t change.

“They will ask you to do whatever they want, if you don’t do it you will be in big trouble with them.

“They had a different punishment for anything. If you did something serious against them they could kill you straight away.”

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