AN OXFORD City councillor is 'horrified' by the events that have unfolded in Afghanistan as the Taliban takeover.

Labour Councillor Shaista Aziz stands in solidarity with Oxford’s Afghan community as their families flee Afghanistan or remain under strict Taliban rules.

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She spent the day yesterday with 38 Afghan women from across Oxford on a day trip to Bournemouth beach and spoke with them about the tragedy.

She said: "On the way up here there were lots of women crying and sharing stories of their fear for their family, particularly the women in the family.

"One woman showed me a photo of her sister who was a university student and she's been burning all her documents showing she received an education at university level because they're very worried about the Taliban showing up in the neighbourhood in Kabul where they're from.

"People are frightened of getting a knock on the door. Others have gone into hiding. There's a real sense of devastation really."

Ms Aziz, who is cabinet member for inclusive communities, spent the best part of 20 years working as an international aid worker and 10 years working on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border with women and girls impacted by violence in the area.

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She has therefore seen first hand the impact events such as this has on lives.

She said: "There's a lot of anxiety, distress and shock. Everyone is saying to me here today that the siege which has happened has been really overwhelming and right now the priority is to save lives and to make sure people are protected.

"And so that's why our statement from the city council is really important because it's important to show solidarity with Afghan communities and also wider communities impacted and we said really clearly that we reiterate our commitment to welcoming refugees and migrants."

Boris Johnson hopes to convene a meeting of world leaders at the 'earliest opportunity' as he looks to co-ordinate the international response to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

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But what Ms Aziz wants is clear guidance on how many Afghans will be given the right to settle in the UK and how much money will be given to councils to work with families.

The councillor says she is proud of Oxford being a 'city of Sanctuary' and hopes people welcome refugees into the city.

She said: "It's important for us to speak with compassion and to understand that the situation in Afghanistan is extremely horrifying.

"We've always been an international city and so what I would say to people is let's be as compassionate and as humane as we are, lets show that side, let's not let people divide us, let's understand the situation that we're in."

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