Malala Yousafzai joins Gordon Brown and faith leaders in launching petition to ‘Save Afghan lives’

23 million people in Afghanistan are at risk of famine Credit: ITV News
  • Article by ITV News Senior Producer Roohi Hasan

A new petition to ‘Save Afghan lives’ has been launched tonight by the former prime minister Gordon Brown. He is joined by women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai, Save the Children UK director Kirsty McNeill and several British faith leaders including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The petition is a direct appeal to the British public to add their voices to help Afghan lives be saved urgently.

The situation in Afghanistan is so dire, that one father offered to sell his daughter to an ITV News team as he can no longer feed her and malnourished babies struggle for life in hospitals which lack medicines. Watch John Ray's heartbreaking report from Afghanistan

A warning this video contains images viewers may find distressing.

This video contains distressing images

The petition calls for the governments of the 40 countries who went into Afghanistan, including the UK and US, to take part in the talks. "One small click to sign can very quickly become one enormous signal that we want the UK government to lead on saving Afghan lives," said Mr Brown. Five million children and four million adults in Afghanistan are in immediate danger of acute malnutrition and 23 million people face famine in the coming months.

The worst drought in 30 years has been followed by a freezing winter in Afghanistan, leaving nine million people at risk of famine, reports ITV News Correspondent John Ray

"There is not a moment to lose. My friend Malala, the Pakistani girl who was shot at by the Taliban for supporting girls' education and won the Nobel prize, has told me she will be one of the first to sign the petition. You can help save Afghan lives by signing to Save Afghan Lives.” The former Prime Minister tweeted earlier this week following ITV News’ eyewitness reports from Afghanistan that: “To turn our backs now in their hour of greatest need would be the final insult: a badge of shame that the free world would carry for ever.”

He told ITV News in an interview: "What ITV News has done by showing these pictures from Afghanistan is make it impossible for the rest of the world to ignore that something must now be done to avoid a winter of starvation." In ITV News Correspondent John Ray’s heartbreaking report, he and his team reported on how hospitals did not have the resources to save babies with malnutrition and how some parents were feeling forced to sell their children to save their lives.

Kirsty McNeill, Executive Director of Policy, Advocacy & Campaigns at Save the Children UK who has signed the new petition said: “Every province in Afghanistan is facing critical levels of hunger.

"It’s now a race against time to get families the urgent support they need to survive.

"If no action is taken in the coming months, up to one million children could be at risk of dying from malnutrition. Alongside Gordon Brown, Rowan Williams, Malala Yousafzai, and Kirsty McNeill, other early signatories include:

  • Onjali Rauf, Author and CEO of O's Refugee Aid Team

  • Jasvir Singh OBE

  • Revd Canon Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy

  • Onkardeep Singh MBE Founder of Society and Me

  • Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra Muslim Chaplain Canary Wharf

  • Revd Mark Rowland, Free Church Chaplain, University of Warwick

  • Dr Tamra Wright, Visiting Research Fellow St Benet’s Hall Oxford

  • Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

  • Miss Betsy B Mathieson, Deputy Chair, King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence

  • Amos Schonfield Founder Our Second Home

  • Revd Michaela Youngson, Assistant Secretary of the Methodist Conference.

  • Imam Murshad Habib

  • Revd David Butterworth

  • Shelley Marsh Executive Director, Reshet

  • Jonathan Mead, London School of Theology

  • Julie Siddiqi MBE

  • Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

  • Rabbi Jeff Berg

Click here to donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Afghanistan Crisis Appeal, a charity made up of 15 UK aid charities that specialises in humanitarian aid and disaster response. Its current appeal aims to help the eight million people in Afghanistan who are at risk of famine this winter.