Afghanistan diaspora welcomes Ukrainians as Morrison Government refugee policy fails

reposted from Action for Afghanistan

Media Release 03.03.2022

The Action for Afghanistan campaign stands in solidarity with all those fleeing war and persecution in Ukraine, Australia can and must welcome refugees and people fleeing war from around the world. The Morrison Government’s response to the invasion of Ukraine shows it can act swiftly to help those fleeing violence, highlighting the complete moral and political failure of their response to the people of Afghanistan. 

Within days of the invasion of Ukraine, the Morrison Government rightfully offered to accept refugees from Ukraine, likely, in addition to the existing humanitarian intake. A welcome development and a needed one, especially with LGBTQI+ persons in Ukraine fleeing persecution.

However, over 6 months since the fall of Kabul and the Morrison Government has not offered a single additional humanitarian visa to people from Afghanistan, this is despite over 150,000 people applying for protection. Australia was at war in Afghanistan for twenty years, it was the country’s longest military engagement and was predicated largely on protecting the people of Afghanistan from violence and persecution.

The return of the Tablian to power leaves many people from Afghanistan who worked with Australian forces in imminent danger, as well as groups such as Hazaras, LGBTQI+ persons and more. The Morrison Government has systematically reduced Australia’s humanitarian intake to a point where it is no longer in a position to respond to humanitarian emergencies. There must be an immediate 20,000 additional humanitarian places, permanent protection offered to people from Afghanistan in Australia and fast-tracked family reunion. 

Renee Dixson, a chair of the Forcibly Displaced People Network, an Australian LGBTIQ+ refugee-led organisation, said: “Humanitarian crisis exacerbates violence on those communities already marginalised. Ukraine is no exception. There have been already threats of violence for LGBTIQ+ communities. We are also aware of people stuck at the border and those who are not able to leave their homes because Russian occupation army is using civilians as their human shield.”

“We see that a rapid response to bring people to safety is possible, and we welcome it. We stand united with our colleagues at the Action for Afghanistan and communities in Afghanistan and Australia. We have been calling for an increased intake and attention to a range of marginalised groups since last year. We can no longer wait.” 

Barat Ali Batoor, Hazara-Australian, photographer, organiser at Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) and filmmaker said: “The diaspora community from Afghanistan welcomes and supports additional humanitarian intake in response to the war in Ukraine crisis as far as they are not just false promises. We stand in solidarity with people from Ukraine who are experiencing the same pain as we have been experiencing for months now.”

“However, the response from the Australian government to the Afghanistan crisis has been very unsatisfactory so far and we call on the government again to act on the ask for an additional 20,000 humanitarian places for people from Afghanistan. The diaspora community from Afghanistan consider the lack of commitment to additional places to those fleeing the escalating humanitarian crisis very disappointing. ”

Diana Sayed, CEO of Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, said: “Our response to the global crisis, and people impacted by war and humanitarian crisis must be consistent and based on human rights principles.” “After all that people from Afghanistan have endured in the past six months, differential treatment is hurtful.”

Media Contact:

Action for Afghanistan

Sam Brennan or 0428 973 324

Forcibly Displaced People Network

Renee Dixson or 0410 358 580