Crisis in Afghanistan

The American withdrawal from Afghanistan has resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands seek to flee the persecution and oppression by the Taliban and to seek the freedoms and rights which had been tentatively gained in the tenuous peace of the last 20 years.  Our hearts are breaking for families torn apart in Afghanistan, for those who now live with the constant fear of persecution and reprisal, and for Afghanis everywhere who hold grave fears for the safety of their loved ones.  

Australia’s active involvement in the war in Afghanistan and subsequent ‘peace’ efforts, and the substantial Hazara community here in our community means that many Australians have a personal connection with Afghanistan.

The Action for Afghanistan Coalition was quickly formed and is urging the Australian Government to act to save lives of people in Afghanistan – their Open Letter was signed by almost 10,000 people in the first 24 hours.  Since then over 150,000 people have signed the open letter. 

There are also   Shareable social media images, Background on the Afghan Australian Advocacy Network ,  and The full open letter with all signatories listed

Representatives of the Hazara community have been very active in advocating for support, and are participating on the Expert panel

We know probably thousands of Afghanis assisted Australian military over many years, and persistent calls by former soldiers to give them a pathway to safety were largely ignored by the Australian Government – many of these people remain trapped in Afghanistan.  This military connection has resulted in the RSL coming out in support of Afghan refugees.

Julian Hill MP (ALP Federal Member for Bruce) on the plight of Afghans who are Australian citizens & have been waiting for their applications for family reunion for many years because of a discriminatory & racist immigration system.   “Scott Morrison failed Australians with family in Afghanistan”   23rd August 2020 

Andrew Leigh, Labor MP has urged the government to take more asylum seekers from Afghanistan and to end the cruel practice of refusing permanent residency to refugees who came here by boat before 2013.  Andrew spoke in parliament about Zaki Haidari, who fled from Afghanistan after the Taliban abducted his father and killed his brother, and called for Zaki to be given the chance to start a life here, rather than being kept in limbo on a temporary visa.

See below links to Information sheets, media re reports and various statements of support including:

  • Faith Communities – see resources for faith communities – your faith group can sign on to a special petition
  • Australian Human Rights Commission 
  • State government and local councils – lobby your State government and local council to do likewise

TAKE ACTION

We feel powerless, but there are Actions you can take:

  • Click HERE   to send a template email to your MP.
  •  Send a letter to other MPs and state Senators   See the  ARAN letter writing Kit here   for sample letters and contact details for MPs, Senators and the major daily newspapers 
  • Send letters to the major dailies and other media outlets
  • Use your social media to share the call for a special humanitarian intake of 20,000 refugees  Use Hashtag  #ActionForAfghanistan  
  • Online letter to local MPs – calling for a special refugee intake from Afghanistan 
  • Email all ALP MPs and Senators asking that they support the call for 20,000 additional resettlement places for Afghan refugees. Given that the Government is under growing pressure from people in Government-held electorates and members of its core support base, we believe this would be a timely response from Labor. It would also be greatly appreciated by the many Australians of Afghan background who are particularly distressed about the safety of family and friends.  Find a sortable listing of all MPs and Senators.
  • Amnesty petition
  • Encourage your Faith community to sign on to Christians United for Afghanistan (details below)
  • Lobby your state government and local council to support the demands – see sample motions below
  • Donate to support Afghan refugees:  See various options here – Emergency Action Alliance   

Suggested points to mention: 

  • Commit to an additional humanitarian intake of at least 20,000, prioritising the most vulnerable Afghans, similar to Canada’s announcement on 14 August 2021, and similar to Australia’s response to the Syrian conflict in 2015.
  • Expedite the resettlement of Afghan interpreters, guides and other personnel involved in Australia’s mission in Afghanistan.
  • Grant permanent protection to Afghan refugees, predominantly the historically persecuted Hazara ethnic groups, who are currently on temporary protection visas in Australia, or are in immigration detention.
  • Grant amnesty to all Afghan nationals in Australia who fear returning to Afghanistan.
  • 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 and issuing a moratorium on forced returns to Afghanistan.
  • Enable priority access to family reunion to refugees from Afghanistan in Australia.

Faith communities  

A number of churches have signed onto Christians United for Afghanistan, asking our Australian Government to offer 20,000 additional resettlement places for refugees fleeing Afghanistan, to provide security for Afghani’s in Australia on temporary protection visas or in detention, and to increase our humanitarian aid for refugees and asylum seekers in the region. Individuals and groups can sign the petition here.

A toolkit for Congregations is here.   Encourage your faith community to support the calls for support for the Afghan community and those seeking protection in Australia. 

Statement from the seven Bishops of the Catholic Dioceses of Melbourne, Ballarat, Sale and Sandhurst, on welcome and concern for the Afghan Community in Victoria. CSSV statement here

Statement by the Australian Human Rights Commission on Afghanistan

State Governments and Local Councils pass motions of support for Refugees from Afghanistan 

Consider lobbying your State Government and Local Council to adopt similar motions.

General Information and Assistance

Action for Afghanistan website

Refugee Council of Australia Helpsheet

TheAsia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR) has launched an Afghan Crisis Helpline for Afghan nationals in Australia, Iran or Afghanistan. APNOR can provide emergency support items, link you with mental health counsellors and refer you for pro bono legal support. Call (+61) 1800 855 707.

Legal assistance 
See RACS

Refugee Legal – information re visas for Afghan refugees

ASRC – information sheet

Online discussions 

Perspectives on Afghanistan:   Speakers: Helen Clark, Chris Carter, Abbas Nazari, Zakaria Hazaranejad, and Zahra Hussaini
Broadcast: 2 September, 2021 – Hosted by the Helen Clark Foundation

A spotlight on Afghanistan:  Speakers: Dr Nematullah BizhanAli Reza YunespourRawan ArrafLala Pordeli
Broadcast: 2 September 2021 – Hosted by Centre for Social Inclusion and Inclusion

Abbas Nazari, After the Tampa & the Afghanistan crisis
Broadcast: 8 September 2021 – Hosted by National Press Club of Australia

20th Anniversary: The Ongoing Policy Legacy of the Tampa.  Online forum hosted by Western Sydney University: hosted by David Marr, with Abbas Nazari, Behrooz Boochani  and Julian Burnside.

The politicisation of seeking asylum symposium Challenging Racism Project | Western Sydney University

Media Reports

UNHCR’s Representative in Afghanistan, Caroline Van Buren, describes the current situation

SMH: As the Taliban seizes control, here is what Australia can do.

The Guardian: Life or death for Hazara’s: Australia has a new moral obligation to act, now.

The Guardian: Australian government urged to expand refugee intake as Afghans seek to flee Taliban rule

The Guardian: Plea for Afghans in Australia to be allowed to stay as rescue mission from Taliban planned

SBS: More than 250 ADF troops deployed to help evacuate Australians in Afghanistan.

The Conversation: How Joe Biden failed the people of Afghanistan – and tarnished US credibility around the world.

Kaldor Centre 
There is no ‘Right Way’ for Afghan Refugee to Seek Asylum

Australia’s Response to the Afghan Crisis

Explainer – Australia’s response to refugee crisis 

Previous government responses to international refugee crises