Call for Australia to take 20,000 Afghan refugees

Australia Afghan refugees

Jesuit Priest and human rights lawyer Father Frank Brennan says Australia should take in 20,000 Afghan refugees rather than the 3,000 being proposed.

“There are lots of people, including our veterans, who know these Afghans. They want us to do more. We can do much better than 3,000,” Brennan told Sky News Australia.

There are particular fears for the safety of women and girls as the Taliban imposes hardline Islamic rule on Afghanistan.

Alex Hawke, the Australian Immigration Minister, defended the number, pointing out that Australia’s total intake of Afghans since 2013 would be up to 14,000.

He said Australia has been welcoming Afghans every year, unlike some other countries.

In 2015, the Abbott government granted 12,000 humanitarian visas to people in Syria on top of Australia’s regular humanitarian program.

However, Brennan pointed out that Australia used to have 18,750 places a year for humanitarian cases. That was reduced by 5,000 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “So, to say that we’ll just take 3,000 in the first place as a floor, not a ceiling, and that’s part of the 13,000. We need to get back to a decent intake.”

Brennan believes three issues need to be addressed related to the Afghanistan refugee situation.

The first issue is the evacuation of people from Afghanistan, given the collapse of the situation there. The Australian government need to “evacuate those who are Australian citizens, those who have visas and those who worked for the Australians.”

Secondly, Brennan asked, what will Australia do for those who will flow across the border, particularly into Pakistan and Iran or seeking refuge elsewhere?

“As Australians, we need to do our bit, and I’m one of those Australians who think our bit sounds more like twenty thousand rather than three thousand,” said Brennan.

The third issue Father Brennan raised was “what the country should do with the 5,000 Afghans on temporary protection visas. Many have been in Australia for 10 years?”

“I think we should move to give permanent residence to those 5,000 so they can start to sponsor their families. Then we can sponsor 20,000 places for those who are stranded in Pakistan or Iran.”

According to Brennan, the 5,000 Afghan refugees have been living in Australia, being responsible citizens, ably employed and getting educated.

“They’re the very ones we would be looking to say, well, look, we can’t take all of those Afghans who are fleeing persecution under the Taliban. But sensibly, we should be taking those who already have good family connections to those here.”

“I think the sense of the Australian community is that there are enough people who will say, ‘well, hang on; if they’re here, they’ve been here over 10 years, let’s give them permanent residence.’”

“What’s the Australian community prepared to do given that we committed our forces to Afghanistan for 20 years,” Brennan concluded.

Amnesty International Australia Refugee Advisor Dr Graham Thom slammed Australia for only taking 3,000 Afghan refugees.

“This is a huge crisis which has only just begun. 3,000 places is a start, but it’s wholly insufficient when we have so many people in urgent, desperate need,” Thom said.


Sky News Australia

The Daily Mail

New Zealand Herald

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News category: World.

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