Media release21 January 2022
The Australian Government’s refugee resettlement response to the Afghanistan crisis is so bitterly disappointing that it will leave Afghan Australians and their millions of supporters across the Australian community feeling betrayed, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) says.
RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said the four-year commitment announced today of just 10,000 humanitarian places and 5000 family reunion places was hopelessly inadequate, given the scale of need and the generosity of Australian responses to past crises.
“In 2015, Tony Abbott’s Government committed itself to a special additional allocation of 12,000 visas for refugees from Syria and Iraq on top of the annual humanitarian program. This resulted in 39,146 Syrians and Iraqis being resettled over the four years from July 2015,” Mr Power said.
“Today, Scott Morrison’s Government has offered no additional humanitarian places and committed only to allocating places from a global humanitarian program which it cut by 5000 places a year from 2020.
“Today we learn that visas for the 4300 Afghan nationals evacuated from mid August will not be part of any additional commitment, as was widely expected. This means there will be fewer than 11,000 refugee and family visas over the next four years for those not part of the evacuation process.
“In just five months, Australia has received applications from more than 145,000 Afghan nationals in desperate circumstances. What is clear now is that very few of those people have any hope of building a life of safety in Australia.”
Ahmad Shuja Jamal, a special advisor to RCOA who was a senior official in the government of Afghanistan prior to the Taliban takeover in August, said Australia was missing an opportunity to have a positive impact in the region with its greatly delayed and deeply inadequate response.
“Urgent and immediate action at scale is required to protect Afghans under threat. There is no time to waste: Taliban are intensifying their crackdown on women, minorities and those who oppose them by the day,” Mr Jamal said.
“Australia’s refugee resettlement policy is not just about Australia: it can send powerful signals to countries bordering Afghanistan to be more receptive to Afghans seeking safety.
“By anouncing numbers that reflect the true scope of the problem in Afghanistan, Australia can show that these countries are not alone in shouldering the responsibility.”
Ahmad Shuja Jamal and Paul Power are available for further comment and interviews through our media team on 0488 035 535.