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The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement


Afghanistan Desk

Convenor: Marissa Quie


In August 2021, the Taliban took control in Kabul, re-establishing the Islamic Emirate. Violent change and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan demand flexible and effective solutions. Dr Quie, leading this project, is an academic scholar with deep knowledge of policies. She has served as advisor to Minister Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai from 2006 to 2012 and has since worked as College Lecturer in Politics at Magdalene College and Fellow & DoS in HSPS at Lucy Cavendish. Amongst others, she has provided evidence to the UK parliament and has promoted Rethinking of European and Afghan policy approaches to migration at Chatham House. In the course of 2021/22, she has advanced her research and policy paper on the implications of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), which will lead to a workshop on this topic in 2022.


Events 2022/23


Forum on the Future of Afghanistan 
Thursday, 22nd of June, 12.00 until Friday, 23rd of June, 17.00

As part of its programme on understanding crises and displacement, the Cambridge Refugee Hub is holding a workshop with young Afghan leaders on the Future of Afghanistan, Thursday, June 22nd and Friday, June 23rd, 2023. The objective of this workshop is to bring together young Afghan leaders and researchers, now in diaspora, to establish a diverse and representative platform, which will meet regularly over the following years to discuss and create consensus on key issues, such as women and minority rights, reconciliation, and in particular educational initiatives for Afghan women and refugees. As result of these workshops, we hope to develop position papers and shape interventions, with the support of academic experts at the University of Cambridge, to then share with Afghan, regional and international stakeholders. 

This workshop is by invitation only. Please contact for any questions.


Symphony of Courage: Empowerment and Resistance in Afghanistan through the Arts, 7 February 2023

Symphony of Courage tells the story of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and its brave founder, Dr. Ahmad Sarmast. Challenging the Taliban’s ban on secular music, Sarmast joined forces with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma to evacuate his students including the all-female orchestra Zohra to Portugal. This documentary follows Farida and Zohra, the last two girls to be evacuated from Afghanistan. It explores how Afghanistan’s musical heritage is being kept alive. The ANIM is committed to developing a new generation of leaders empowered by music. Its concerts are broadcast in Afghanistan by Voice of America, giving hope and inspiration to Afghans working for change. 

Watch the trailer


Afghan Diaspora Conference, 17 October, 2022

Together with the Rahela Trust and Omid International, The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement hosted a conference, “What next for Afghan women? Education and empowerment under the Taliban” on 17th October 2022. Keynote speakers were the former Foreign Minister and National Security Advisor, Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta and former MPs and women’s rights activists, Fawzia Koofi and Shukria Barakzai. The objective of this Afghan-led event was to find solutions for Afghan women and refugees whose education has been disrupted by the Taliban’s return to power. Updates and videos to follow. 


Current projects

  1. We are exploring specialist mentoring and support platforms linking Afghans who have experienced disruption to their university education because of the Taliban takeover with experts at Cambridge and beyond. Equally, we plan to offer mentoring support to Afghan refugees who wish to pursue university education in the UK.
  2. We are running events to showcase the diversity and achievements of Afghan refugees in the UK including poets, actors and film producers, doctors, and journalists.
  3. We are planning a closed policy workshop looking at calls for inclusive government, resulting in a policy paper.
  4. We are running a Forum on the Future of Afghanistan to discuss new visions for Afghanistan and to explore concrete solutions in the current context.




  • Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, is an Afghan politician who last served as National Security Advisor to President Hamid Karzai and as Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.
  • Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai is the former Chief Negotiator in the intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha. He previously served as Director of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Minister of Defence, CEO of the APRP and Minister for Telecommunications and Information and as Director for the Agency for Rehabilitation and Energy Conservation. He was a Chevening Scholar at Cambridge and the Jennings Randolph Afghanistan Fellow at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) 
  • Rahela Sidiqqi is the Founder and Director of the Rahela Trust for Afghan Women's Education. She is Chair of Women’s Rights Activists and the UK based NGO, Afghanistan Emergency & Development Aid Network. Rahela is also the Chair of Middle East Women and Youth Society. She was previously Country Director at Rasa Advocacy and Skill Building, Senior Advisor to the Civil Service Commission (Afghanistan) and a Senior Advisor to UN Habitat (Afghanistan).
  • Sophia Swire, Founder of Future Brilliance. Swire began working in the Middle East and Asia in the 1990’s, when she established rural schools for girls in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India through her first non-profit, Learning for Life. An award-winning, serial social entrepreneur and ESG expert, Swire started her career in investment at an asset management company followed by Kleinwort Benson, then the UK’s largest investment bank. She has spent 30 years harnessing the expertise of the private sector to drive education, skills’ development, and sustainable economic growth in conflict zones. She has trailblazing private sector expertise in developing handicraft industries in emerging markets. In 1990, she founded the first social impact fashion brand, Sophia Swire London, and launched the global fashion for pashminas, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, increasing the GDP of Nepal. In 2008, Swire began collaborating with the Turquoise Mountain Foundation to upgrade the Afghan jewelry sector. She went on to work as the Senior Advisor on Gemstone and Jewelry sector development to USAID-ASMED, the Aga Khan Foundation, the World Bank, DFID-ASI and GIZ. In 2012, funded by the US Department of Defense (Task Force for Business Stability Operations), she founded Future Brilliance Afghanistan Organisation (FBAO), to further modernize the Afghan gemstone and jewelry sector, and to introduce digital skills to the Afghan workforce. Swire led the Future Brilliance Task Force rescue effort for vulnerable Afghan women including Sharbat Gula, “the green-eyed Afghan girl,” whom she evacuated to Italy with the help of the Italian Foreign Office. At COP26 in Glasgow, in November 2021, she launched Gender Equity Diversity Investment (GEDI) a venture capital investment firm, targeting top quartile financial returns and positive impact at the nexus of gender and climate, education and health. She remains a board member of Future Brilliance Afghanistan and a trustee of Future Brilliance US and Future Brilliance UK. 


Research and Publications (upcoming)

Submission: House of Lords written submission on Family Migration, 26 October 2022