A FORMER York MP begins a sponsored walk today to raise money for Afghan refugees, and for those left behind in the country.

Sir Hugh Bayley, who was Labour MP for York Central from 1992-2015, will be walking 125 miles over eight days, from Scarborough to Helmsley, and then the Ebor Way from Helmsley to Ilkley.

The money raised will go to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) who have 35 years’ experience working in Afghanistan and can ensure the money isn’t diverted to the Taliban.

Sir Hugh said: “As the Taliban advanced across the country people fled to escape but many will be left behind.

“The IRC have experience negotiating with the Taliban to reopen health clinics and schools closed due to the conflict, have given cash to 10,000 stranded families.”

He went to Afghanistan seven times as an MP to see how British aid was rebuilding schools and health clinics, and saw women set up businesses after previously being unable to leave their house without their husband’s permission, and their life expectancy increase after childbirth.

“I met a lot of inspirational people, Afghan people are just like anybody else you know with dreams and ambitions- I met an Afghan youth parliament, and there was one table of girls aged 15-17 who had just started school.

“I feel devastated by what’s happened, I was arguing 12-15 years ago for the Government of Afghanistan to start negotiating a power sharing arrangement to avoid a military takeover.”

Sir Hugh decided to embark on the walk after having walked long distances to help raise the vital funds:

“I want everything that can be done to help the Afghan people to stay safe and retain some of the benefits they have achieved in recent years, and I think there is scope to do so – you can’t take the education away from three million women.”

To support Sir Hugh click here.