Thousands of Afghans seeking refuge in Australia require urgent humanitarian aid and resettlement support, a member of the federal government’s advisory panel has said.
Ali Reza Yunespour, from the newly formed Advisory Panel for Australia’s resettlement of Afghan Nationals, said many of the refugees, arriving in their thousands, were traumatised and needed immediate support in the community.
“One thousand plus Afghans have arrived in Australia, they need immediate assistance from the community,” he said.
“Some of them are distressed, some of them have faced prosecution, some of them have, of course, experienced trauma.”
Mr Yunespour, himself a former asylum seeker who arrived in Australia 16 years ago, said there were 3,000 allocated places, where the Australian government had agreed to offer temporary protection visas, and the panel was working on increasing the intakes.
Speaking at a UTS Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion panel about the crisis in Afghanistan he said the number of refugees is likely to increase and thousands are still waiting in the UAE and other countries to be transferred to Australia.
Since Friday 160 Afghanis have been released from 14-day quarantine in Perth, the first among the new arrivals.
Speakers discussed the responsibility Australia has built to war-torn Afghanistan over 20 years, and despite Australia’s efforts of high refugee intake, temporary protection visas are not sufficient protection.
We can’t expect them to remain with so much uncertainty.
The event, held in collaboration with Hunar Symposia, heard Australia must provide serious support to help Afghan refugees live without fear in Australia.
Rawan Arra, principal lawyer and executive director at Australian Centre for International Justice said: “We can’t expect them to remain with so much uncertainty.
“Particularly now when they are grieving with family… and I think that’s incumbent now on the government to really to do that as one of the first things they do in actions going forward.
“One of the demands put forward by the community, including being supported by a huge number of civil society organisations, is to grant permanent protection.”
While permanent protection visas are not imminent, Australian universities are able to provide immediate protection to Afghan students or academics living in Afghanistan, and who want to study, said Nematuallah Bizhan, a lecturer at Australian National University.
“For those [Afghan] people seeking to study abroad and are eligible and have dreams, there should be ways to accommodate them,” he said.
Mr Bizhan added Afghan students currently studying in Australia are in need of counselling to support them in the current crisis.
“They are suffering more than people in Afghanistan because they are observing the situation from outside, some of them can’t sleep and can’t stop thinking about what happened in Afghanistan,” he said.
The Afghanistan crisis has rocked Australia, and Lala Pordeli a solicitor at Concordia Legal said to help Afghan refugees the media needs to maintain a connection between Australia and Afghanistan.
“Every time things happen we need to make the public aware and have the campaign continue,” she said.
Main image of children play in the Sosmaqala Internally Displaced Persons Camp in northern Afghanistan by United Nations/Flickr.