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Reply to letter re Afghan refugees by Pat Conaghan M.P.


From: Conaghan, Pat (MP) <>

Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2021 2:01 PM
To: M. G.
Subject: RE: Afghanistan


Dear Mr G,


Thanks for your email.


The situation in Afghanistan continues to be volatile and dangerous.


Our top priority is the safe departure of Australian citizens and visa holders, including Afghan former locally engaged employees. We continue to work with our friends and partners to support one another’s evacuation operations.


Since 18 August, we have supported the evacuation of about 2,450 people from Kabul, including Australian and New Zealand nationals, visa holders and foreign nationals including British, US and a Fijian. Four more flights airlifted evacuees on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning (AEST) with more than 750 people. We have had three charter planes from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) into Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide that have returned 419 people to Australia.


Our consular officials are using every means possible to assist Australian citizens and visa holders – phoning and emailing directly as well as providing regular updates on the Government’s Smartraveller website.


Access to Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) continues to be very challenging, but we do have a significant presence on the ground at the airport. We are encouraging Australian citizens, Permanent Residents and Australian visa-holders to go to HKIA, if it’s safe to do so. We will do everything we can in the time we have to get as many people out as safely as possible.


There is a discussion going on about the prospect of US extending its withdrawal deadline and we are part of those discussions and we are absolutely ready to support a continuing operation at HKIA.


Every visa applicant who does not meet the criteria of the category of at-risk employees now has their application forwarded automatically to the Department of Home Affairs to be automatically considered under another humanitarian stream. This process has already resulted in hundreds of other visas being granted to those who are ineligible for the special category.


The Australian Government has announced that an initial 3,000 humanitarian places will be allocated to Afghan nationals within Australia’s overall annual humanitarian program. The Government anticipates this initial allocation will increase over the course of this year, giving first priority to Afghan nationals within the offshore humanitarian program and affording them visa processing priority in the year ahead.


While I fully support this, I believe we can and should resettle more Afghan nationals as part of our humanitarian program. I will be urging my Parliamentary colleagues to join me in advocating for a minimum of 10,000 additional places in response to this crisis. Australia is consistently one of the world’s most generous humanitarian resettlement countries and I believe this is an opportunity to provide greater levels of support for Afghani people at risk from the Taliban.


Yours sincerely,



Federal Member for Cowper

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