The Refugee Council of Australia welcomes the final report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee’s inquiry on Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan. We endorse the recommendations and look forward to working with the Government in implementing them.
This report follows last week’s Budget commitment to bring in an additional 16,500 Afghan refugees over the next four years. The issues highlighted in this report, and the recommendations made, are vital for the Department of Home Affairs to consider when implementing this newly expanded Afghan quota.
In particular, we highlight the recommendation for the Department of Home Affairs to urgently improve its processes and communication in relation to Afghan visas. As our submissions highlighted, the lack of clear communication and guidance from the Department is leaving people in dire situations and creating ongoing confusion, fear and anxiety about people’s safety while they await a response in regard to their visa application.
Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia said:
“People need to know the timeline for processing their visa and their likelihood of success, so they can make difficult choices for their safety. The ongoing insecurity in Afghanistan and the lack of clarity around visa processing is leaving people in precarious situations. Likewise, the lack of communication is causing significant stress and anxiety for Afghan community members in Australia desperate to bring their family to safety.”
RCOA also welcomes the Report recommendation that “the Australian Government utilise the most effective channels for aid funding and distribution.”
Ahmad Shuja Jamal, Special Advisor to the Refugee Council of Australia stated:
“The UN humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan has only raised about half the required funds, highlighting the dire gap in urgent assistance in Afghanistan — a gap that Australia could help address.
“Generous Australian assistance will be critical in saving Afghan lives and stave off avoidable suffering, death and displacement.”
The Report also noted the ongoing concern for refugees in Australia on temporary visas, who face ongoing uncertainty, without the ability to bring their family members to safety in Australia. We welcome the finding of the Committee Report that “that, in light of the dire security and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, Afghan nationals in Australia on temporary visas be afforded pathways to permanent settlement and family reunion.”
We look forward to working with the Department of Home Affairs in implementing these recommendations, in order to ensure that the Australian Government’s commitment of 31,500 Afghan places over the next five years is implemented effectively and transparently.
For further comment or to arrange an interview, contact 0488 035 535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The final report of the Committee’s inquiry on Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan is available here.