The Refugee Council of Australia provided further evidence and an update on our previous submission to the inquiry into Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan. This draws the Committee’s attention to the urgent need for visa processing priorities to be determined and communicated, and for pending applications to be progressed in a timely manner.
We reiterate the importance of restoring the 28,000 places removed from the Humanitarian Program since 2018 with an additional intake for Afghan nationals at risk. With regards to settlement support, we acknowledge the unique circumstances facing Afghans who were evacuated in chaotic circumstances and have begun their settlement journey in Australia in the context of services having to rebuild after significant COVID-related disruptions, during a public health crisis, and on a visa sub-class (449), the visa which contributes an additional layer of complexity to settlement experiences.
Finally, we provide an update on the situation in Afghanistan from our new staff member, Ahmad Shuja Jamal, who is a former Afghan civil servant and expert, now in exile in Australia. Jamal served as the director-general for international relations and regional cooperation at the Afghan National Security Council, where he helped manage Afghanistan’s security partnerships. He also served as director for peace and civilian protection and handled Afghanistan’s policy portfolio on international sanctions, including those of the UN Security Council and the US against Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Section 4 provides the Committee with up-to-date information regarding the situation in Afghanistan and the dire need for humanitarian intervention from Australia and other allies.