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MEDIA RELEASE

Thursday 15th November 2018

 

The Refugee Council of Australia strongly condemns escalating terrorist attacks on Hazaras in Afghanistan and calls for the international community and Afghan Government to act swiftly to prevent further violence, provide protection to those displaced by Taliban attacks, and immediately end the forced return of Hazara asylum seekers to Afghanistan.

From late October 2018, Taliban forces undertook coordinated attacks against Hazaras in the Khas Uruzgan, Malestan and Jaghori districts of Afghanistan, killing and displacing thousands. These districts, which were until recently relatively peaceful, are now effectively under Taliban control.

On 12 November 2018, as Hazara protestors gathered in Kabul to protest the relative inaction of the Afghan government in the face of these attacks, a suicide bomber struck the protesters, killing at least six people.

Many of those from the Hazara community in Australia originate from these districts and have been deeply affected by these attacks. Hazara-Australians have had family members killed or forced to flee their homes.

Najeeba Wazefadost from the Hazara Women of Australia said: “The Hazara community are mourning the death of loved ones in Afghanistan.”

“The number of our people in need of shelter, food and medicine has increased dramatically. We are doing our best in Australia to help where we can, but we are asking the Afghan Government and international community to provide support with immediate humanitarian needs,” Ms Wazefadost said.

Refugee Council of Australia President, Phil Glendenning, said: “The scale of the tragedy that is unfolding right now in Afghanistan has received so little attention in the media or from the international community.

“When Prime Minister Morrison spoke at the Remembrance Day service in Canberra this week, he rightly lamented war as ‘a failure of our humanity’. In the case of Afghanistan—where Australian military personnel have been serving for longer than both World War I and II combined—what we are seeing is failure multiplied,” Mr Glendenning said.

“The Australian Government should be joining the international community in re-engaging the Afghan Government to ensure the protection of all its citizens,” Mr Glendenning said.

The Refugee Council of Australia is also calling for the Australian and other governments to immediately stop forced returns of Hazara asylum seekers to Afghanistan.

Professor of Diplomacy at ANU and Vice President of the Refugee Council of Australia, Professor William Maley, said that recent attacks on Hazara districts are “of no military significance” to the Taliban and “make more sense as a symbolic strike designed to highlight the inability of the Afghan state effectively to protect members of a vulnerable ethnic and sectarian minority, and as punishment for the relatively tolerant and liberal lifestyle of these communities.”

“These attacks illustrate what has been clear for some time: that there are no ‘safe’ areas to which Hazaras can reasonably be expected to return,” Professor Maley said.

The Refugee Council of Australia is writing to the Australian Government to call for an immediate stop to all returns of people back to danger in Afghanistan.

The Council offers its condolences to families in Australia who have been affected by these devastating attacks.

 

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is the national peak body for refugees and the organisations and individuals who support them.

 

RCOA can provide further assets, alongside comments from Afghanistan-based journalists, members of the Hazara community and RCOA board members.

Media contact: Charly Binney on 0488 035 535 or media@refugeecouncil.org.au

 

A PDF version of this release is available here.