Afghanistan situation makes a grim cocktail of offences and solutions of international diplomacy
As the situation in Afghanistan continues to develop, the whole world is watching Kabul and its new leadership of Taliban with keen interest. Visuals of people clinging to and hanging off the US Air Force planes are now etched in our memories.
Persecution of Hazaras and other minorities at the hands of Taliban is still fresh in our memories. Thus when people were falling off the US Air Force plane to their deaths, some commentators opined the dying chose to die the way they did rather than submitting themselves to Taliban.
It was hardly surprising to see Australians of Afghani descent calling upon the federal government to grant PR to all Afghans in Australia on temporary/bridging visas and those in detention centres. They were joined by various other groups including Refugee Action Coalition and FECCA among others.
Speaking exclusively to Bharat Times, Akram Yusofi of Hazara Shamama Association of Australia backed the call and requested the federal government to open up its heart to genuinely suffering Afghans.
It is not the first time the Australian government would do such a thing he says drawing attention to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to resettle 12, 000 Syrian refugees.
Also speaking to Bharat Times, Sourosh Rawi aka Nawid Cina, son of Sydney based Mahbooba Rawi who runs Humanitarian organization Mahbooba’s Promise, added his voice requesting the federal government to resettle all Afghans in Australia – whether on temporary protection or bridging visas or even in detention centres.
Paying heed to calls the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke yesterday issued a statement assuring Afghans in Australia that they would not be sent back home while the situation in Afghanistan remains volatile, unpredictable and thus unsafe.
“Today I announce that no Afghan visa holder currently in Australia will be asked to return to Afghanistan while the security situation there remains dire”, minister Hawke said.
“Afghan citizens currently in Australia on temporary visas will be supported by the Australian Government”, minister added.
According to the minister’s office, since 15 April 2021, the Australian Government has granted over 640 visas to Afghan LEE and their families with more than 430 people having already arrived in Australia since that date.
Australia has supported local staff who supported us in Afghanistan via the LEE program, commenced in 2013.
Minister Hawke assured Afghan Australians his government was processing applications from Afghan LEE at the highest priority.
3,000 places to Afghans in Australia’s annual Humanitarian intake
The Australian Government has announced that an initial 3,000 humanitarian places will be allocated to Afghan nationals within Australia’s 13,750 annual program.
Australia will give first priority to Afghan nationals within the offshore humanitarian program and afford them visa processing priority in the year ahead.
The 3,000 humanitarian places will focus on family members of Australians, persecuted minorities such as women and girls, children, the Hazara and other vulnerable groups.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke MP, said the 3,000 humanitarian places will ensure Australia continues to meet its ongoing commitment to the Afghan people.
“These 3,000 humanitarian places come on top of the 8,500 Afghans Australia has already successfully resettled since 2013 via our existing humanitarian program,” Minister Hawke said.
“The Government anticipates this initial allocation will increase further over the course of this year,” he said.
“And for those that will come here under this program, Australia has a highly successful humanitarian resettlement program which will assist all Afghan refugees to succeed in their new lives in Australia,” he said.
“In coming weeks I will continue to engage with Australian-Afghan community leaders to identify those most at risk, with a focus on family members, minorities, women, children and other vulnerable and persecuted groups,” he said.
Resisting calls to grant PR to Afghans in Australia, the minister insists the announcement is consistent with Australia’s track record as one of the most generous humanitarian resettlement countries in the world.
The government wants to keep its migration program stringent to combat people smuggling and thus its stance remains unchanged.
“Those who travel illegally to Australia by boat will not permanently settle in Australia”, the minister’s office maintains.
“During visa processing, the safety and security of Australia has remained an absolute priority. All applicants must continue to meet visa criteria and character, security and health requirements.”
While the fear and apprehensions have totally gripped Afghanistan, fate of those on temporary visas in Australia still hangs in the balance.
Prolonged detention and uncertainty, unavoidable given the government’s position, will only make things worse.
In addition to the horrendous issues our Afghan veterans and the forces have had since this mission, there will be more issues flowing from it for the government to deal with.
Two questions Australians must do soul-searching on are:
- Has Afghanistan been another illusory “WMD” mission for Australia? and
- Is it time to commence ‘self-assessing’ strategic international deployments and not play a total subservient ‘little brother’ to the US?
Closely watching and observing the developing Afghanistan situation, some food for thought to our erudite, coffee-sipping international observers who, will no doubt have a lot to say on Afghanistan in the coming days.