FORMER York MP Sir Hugh Bayley has passed though York on the latest leg of his 125-mile sponsored walk to raise money for vital aid work in Afghanistan.

He was joined by the city's Labour MP Rachael Maskell as he walked across the Millennium Bridge this morning en route to Wetherby along the Ebor Way.

Sir Hugh is raising money for charity the International Rescue Committee UK, which still has 1,700 Afghan aid workers in Afghanistan.

"They aren't leaving," said Sir Hugh, who is a trustee of the charity. "They are already providing emergency humanitarian aid to vulnerable and desperate people inside the country, such as cash support to people who fled to Kabul with nothing but the clothes they were standing up in but can't get out.

"They're re-opening health clinics, keeping girls in school, and providing therapeutic 'healing classrooms' for traumatised children. They have also launched 'Signpost', a digital programme which provides accurate, accessible and timely information to people in crisis - people like the interpreter I heard interviewed on the radio who is hiding in a basement. For people like him it's a lifeline."

The charity is also helping to tackle food shortages caused by drought, crop failure and conflict, he added.

York Press:

A school for refugees in Afghanistan. Picture: Hugh Bayley

The International Rescue Committee, which has been working in Afghanistan for 33 years, has launched an emergency appeal for $10 million.

Sir Hugh originally hoped to raise £2,000 from his eight-day walk, which has seen him walk first from Scarborough to Helmsley and then from Helmsley to York before heading on towards Ilkley. But he has already passed £4,000 - and is now hoping to raise £5,000.

He admitted that he had 'terrible blisters' over the first couple of days, and was still weary after each day's walk. "But I have been really pleased by the support, and the number of people who have been giving generously," he said.

York Press:

Sir Hugh checks his map before heading off on today's leg of the walk

Rachael Maskell, who joined Sir Hugh briefly as he set out over the Millennium Bridge for today's leg of the walk, said: “I know that we all want to be generous at this time. Having spoken to the International Rescue Committee, I know that they will do all they can to support those in greatest need left behind in Afghanistan, and give people hope.

"Right now, people need access to food and healthcare and your donations will help deliver that at their time of greatest need.”

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