As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates drastically, JRS Australia stands in solidarity with members of Australia’s Afghan diaspora, including thousands of refugees, people seeking asylum, and their families, who are experiencing significant pain and uncertainty.
JRS Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s ongoing efforts to evacuate locally engaged employees (LEE) and assist humanitarian visa holders currently in Afghanistan. We also acknowledge reports that the Government is considering prioritising refugees from Afghanistan in the 2021-2022 annual humanitarian intake, and we support calls for a scaled-up allocation of places.
We also acknowledge positive developments with regards to a moratorium on returns of visa holders to Afghanistan, and indicative support for Afghan refugees on temporary visa holders in Australia, but await concrete details.
We strongly believe that the Australian Government should take additional measures to ensure the safety and reduce the anguish of people from Afghanistan in need of urgent protection.
We call on the Australian Government to take the following immediate actions in this regard:
- Introduce a substantive intake of refugees and forcibly displaced people from Afghanistan, in addition to Australia’s annual humanitarian program, noting Canada’s recent commitment to take 20,000 refugees.
- Grant permanent protection to refugees from Afghanistan who are currently in Australia on temporary visas.
- Provide people seeking asylum from Afghanistan who are currently in Australia with fair and consistent pathways to seek permanent protection, including by permitting people whose claims have been rejected to submit new applications for protection
- Enable priority access to family reunion to refugees from Afghanistan in Australia.
To act now to help those in Afghanistan, contact your Member of Parliament and urge them to take action. Find your MPs contact email and phone number here.
The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA), which JRS Australia Co-Chairs, has also written to Alex Hawke, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs and Karen Andrews, Minister for Home Affairs. You can read these letters here and here.
Zaki Haidari, the Leadership Coordinator at JRS Australia is also a Hazara community leader. Zaki was only 17 when he fled Afghanistan and is currently on a temporary protection visa. He shares his reflection:
The news coming from Afghanistan is beyond heartbreaking for the Afghan community in Australia. It is shocking and tragic. We have our families, friends, and relatives living there now and we are all in disbelief at how fast the country has fallen. Everyone in Afghanistan is shocked and lost. They don’t know what to do and where to go for their safety.
We, the Afghan community in Australia, feel hopeless and numb to this situation. We are worrying what will happen to our loved ones at any given moment in Afghanistan. What will it take for the Australian government to give us permanent protection and for us to be reunited with our families?
I am grateful to so many Australian friends, advocates, and organisations who stand with us in solidarity. Thank you so much for listening to us, empowering us to raise our voices to politicians, and advocating with us for our loved ones in Afghanistan. I don’t know if the Australian government will listen to our pleas but I hope people in the wider community will join us in our efforts. Any and every little action that you are taking gives hope to the Afghan community.