As the world anxiously watches the unfolding events in Afghanistan, we extend our heartfelt support to the Afghan community in Australia and their loved ones still in Afghanistan.
We can only imagine the pain, fear and anxiety of our Afghan community members as we witness thousands of citizens trying to flee their country in the face of the threat posed by the new regime.
This week we wrote to the Australian Government asking them to take immediate action on behalf of the Afghan community, especially minority communities. In particular, those who had worked assisting Australian and Alliance Defence Forces now face a real and tangible threat to their lives and the lives of their family members and need urgent expatriation. We urge the Government to put humanity first and provide refuge for people in Afghanistan whose lives are in danger. Amid a worldwide pandemic, now more than ever, we must welcome immigrants and those seeking refuge.
We support the 7 steps outlined by the Refugee Council of Australia, calling on the Australian Government to take action by:
- Committing to pathways to permanent residency for Afghans currently in Australia on temporary and bridging visas
- Ensuring all Afghans currently in Australia on temporary visas are not deported, especially those who may be looking to seek asylum
- Prioritising family reunion applications for relatives of Afghan Australians, and for the assessment of these applications to be responsive to all family configurations
- Providing urgent humanitarian aid
- Ensuring Australia’s humanitarian program assists displaced Afghans, especially those who are of diverse sexual orientations, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics
- Ensuring all resettlement programs in Australia are responsive to, and inclusive of, LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people
- Providing urgent financial assistance and resources to refugee-led organisations, who are leading the work in the resettlement of LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people in our communities.
We will continue to support the Australian Afghan community, including our staff who are directly affected.
As a provider of health and community support services, including refugee health services, we understand the devastating impacts the situation has on Afghan communities, and we stand ready to support and advocate for their safety and wellbeing.