A member of the U.K. Parliament has implored Prime Minister Boris Johnson to rescue 228 Christian missionaries who need to evacuate Afghanistan.
As the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan, over 10,000 American citizens and Afghanis fearful of the Taliban are also desperately trying to flee the country.
Ian Paisley, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, spoke before the House of Commons on Wednesday, stressing the need to get missionaries to safety in light of the Taliban takeover.
"He [Johnson] will be aware that there are 228 missionaries in Afghanistan currently under sentence of death, those missionaries need to be taken out of Afghanistan,” said Paisley, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.
“Will the prime minister assure the house every effort will be made to bring back to safe haven, people whose lives are under threat as a result of the catastrophe and foreign policy episode that has gone on in that country?”
For his part, Johnson responded that the government would do “everything we can” to successfully evacuate people from Afghanistan, pledging to resettle at least 5,000 Afghans, possibly as many as 20,000 altogether.
"I'm sure that colleagues across the house, literally every member I imagine, has received messages from people who know someone who needs to get out of Afghanistan, and I can tell the right honorable gentleman that we are doing everything we can to help out of that country, those people to whom we owe a debt of obligation."
Johnson added, "I can tell the House that we have so far secured the safe return of 306 U.K. nationals and 2,052 Afghan nationals as part of our resettlement program, with a further 2,000 Afghan applications completed and many more being processed."
On the same day, First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill of the Northern Ireland Executive released statements expressing their support to help Afghan refugees.
Givan remarked that the “pain and suffering we see in Afghanistan” among those desperately trying to escape Taliban rule “is truly profound.”
“Northern Ireland has not been found wanting when it comes to those seeking refuge or fleeing persecution. In the wake of the Syrian conflict, Northern Ireland took in more than 1,800 people — a higher proportional share than anywhere else in the U.K.,” stated Givan.
“And yet, we have all been moved once again by the scenes in Afghanistan. I am pleased to see a collective will across political parties to address the current situation. We are determined to work with our many partners across society and fellow administrations to offer what sanctuary we can.”
Open Doors USA, a U.S.-based Christian persecution watchdog group, ranks Afghanistan at No. 2 on its list of the worst countries for Christians to live.
“It is impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts face dire consequences if their new faith is discovered,” stated Open Doors earlier this year.
“All Christians in Afghanistan are extremely vulnerable to persecution. Areas controlled by the Taliban are particularly oppressive, but there is no safe way to express any form of Christian faith in the country.”