People Are Calling On The Government To Take In More Refugees As Thousands Flee Afghanistan

Hazara Afghans are fearing for their lives after the Taliban stormed the capital.

Taliban Afghanistan Refugee

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The Morrison Government is under increasing pressure to up their intake of Hazara refugees after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Monday.

Insurgents stormed the presidential palace in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul as President Ashraf Ghani fled, leaving behind vulnerable men, women, and children fearing for their lives. Thousands raced to Kabul for refuge only last week as the Taliban encroached and claimed various major cities — now, the capital is no longer safe either.

“It’s a death sentence for people who worked with NATO and Australian troops. It’s a death sentence for anybody who has studied. It’s a death sentence for Hazara people, and it’s a death sentence for Shia people,” Afghan refugee Salehi Mohammed told the Canberra Times about the Taliban’s rise again.

Australia Saying Too Little

The PM’s response to the troubling developments in Afghanistan have been just short of a metaphorical throwing up of hands: “We hope for the best for them, but the situation is very dire,” he said on Sunday.

Australia’s inhumane immigration policy has been made harder with pandemic border closures. In these distressing times, eyes have turned on Scott Morrison to boost the country’s intake of persecuted ethnic group, the Hazara people.

Hazara Afghans are persecuted for their Shia Islamic beliefs, and are continually targeted by Sunni Muslim radical groups like the Islamic State and Taliban. Hazaras face orchestrated attacks like kidnapping, beheadings, slavery, and displacement, at the hands of the Taliban.

The Refugee Council of Australia said that Hazaras remain in danger in Afghanistan, now more than ever.

“Without an immediate and coordinated national and international response, Taliban forces are free to commit mass atrocities against the Hazaras, with an escalation of violence and further displacement,” the Settlement Services International wrote in a statement, urging the Australian Government to protect Hazaras here and abroad.

Australia’s Hazara Population

Advocates are calling for a moratorium on Hazaras on temporary protection visa holders having to re-apply — instead, they should be offered a blanket extension to stay in Australia. Just last week, a Hazara refugee and Australian permanent resident was threatened with deportation over a verification issue for an identity document provided by the Afghan embassy in Canberra.

In 2018, a group of Hazara Australians protested outside Parliament House, asking the government to help prevent the ‘Talibanisation’ of Afghanistan and their rural region of Hazarajat. At the time, it was estimated that 50,000 Hazara refugees were here on temporary and bridging visas, awaiting a permanent version.

Meanwhile, Afghan refugees settled here who still have family trapped in their homeland won’t be able to reunite with their loved ones, due to the Department of Home Affairs not prioritising reunion applications if people arrived via boat, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We are aware of members of the Hazara community in Australia who have lost loved ones while waiting for their family reunion application to be processed,” human rights lawyer Arif Hussein and Afghan refugee Zaki Haidari wrote in the paper. “This directive could be terminated right now at the will of the Minister for Home Affairs”.

Australia may have withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan, but it can’t dust off its hands while so many lives are at risk now. As the situation in Afghanistan becomes more terrifying and volatile, the Australian Government needs to take more steps to prevent the deportation of current refugees settled here, and open their hearts to let in more of the Hazara community during this humanitarian crisis.

Photo Credit: Al Jazeera