Last month, CIfA wrote to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport to raise concerns about Afghan archaeologists who may need to seek asylum, following the takeover of the country by the Taliban. In that letter, we raised concerns that these individuals could be particular targets for the new regime. Subsequently, CIfA has joined with a range of other sector bodies and individuals in seeking to champion the need for politicians to give particular attention to archaeologists seeking to leave of Afghanistan. You can read our letter here.
Yesterday, following a briefing prepared on behalf of the sector, Lord Rupert Redesdale raised the issue in the House of Lords. Lord Redesdale said:
“…the heritage sector in this country has been very worried about what has been going on in Afghanistan. Those working in the heritage sector in Afghanistan are particularly at risk and were on a bus ready to go to the airport to be taken to a safe country. Unfortunately, [a] bomb went off and those people have not been able to leave. I hope that the Minister will raise this with the DCMS. I know that the DCMS has been doing a lot of work on this, but there is a long-standing and strong link between those in the heritage sectors in this country and in Afghanistan.”
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist, speaking on behalf of the Government, said:
“Across government we are closely monitoring the situation and stand ready to provide whatever support we can to help protect the rich Afghan cultural heritage for future generations and those involved in the sector. We obviously urge all parties in Afghanistan to protect the cultural heritage of their country, including the museums and cultural institutions.”
We understand that various organisations who are visa sponsors have already indicated willingness to explore job opportunities for suitable candidates via the skilled visa immigration route and we are keen to promote connections between employers and Afghan archaeologists if opportunities can be facilitated. If you would like to be kept in touch regarding employment opportunities for asylum seekers, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.