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The Afghan Refugee Crisis

The Afghan Refugee Crisis

We all witnessed on our TV screens the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport some two months ago when the twenty-year military intervention by Western forces in Afghanistan came to an end. Many hundreds of people boarded planes to escape the Taliban, thousands have crossed the borders into neighbouring countries, and many thousands more are in hiding in Kabul and other cities in fear of their lives. Afghans who supported the invasion forces, or who worked for the government, are at serious risk. Women and girls in particular, after two decades of enjoying a level of emancipation and access to education, are very fearful for their futures.

Countries around the world have responded to the crisis by offering generous one-off allocations of up to 20,000 humanitarian visas to Afghan refugees. By contrast, the Australian government, having already cut the annual humanitarian visa allocation by 5,000, has committed to taking 3,000 Afghan refugees from WITHIN our already-reduced intake.

Between 1975 and 1985, we welcomed 70,000 Vietnamese refugees. Following the Tiananmen Square massacre, we admitted 42,000 Chinese refugees. In 2015 we welcomed 12,000 refugees from Syria. 

Many Australian civil society groups, faith groups, politicians of all stripes and individuals have called on the government to allocate 20,000 humanitarian visas to vulnerable Afghans and their families. A petition, signed by 200,000 people was delivered to Parliament, but the Minister, Alex Hawke, refused to meet the delegation. The Labor opposition has remained silent.

How did we get to this? Behrouz Bouchani, the Iranian refugee now living in New Zealand, and author of “No Friend but the Mountain”, put it this way: “We refugees have experienced at least four prime ministers since 2013. Now we are getting close to the next federal election, and we see once again that the Australian government is using the lives of refugees for political gain.”

Mike Griffin

Bellingen and Nambucca District Rural Australians for Refugees


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