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‘Australia must act now’: Emergency humanitarian visas needed for Afghanistan

A year on from the Taliban takeover, the Action for Afghanistan campaign has reiterated its call for the federal government to immediately provide 20,000 emergency humanitarian visas for people from Afghanistan.

user iconJess Feyder 12 August 2022 Politics
‘Australia must act now’: Emergency humanitarian visas needed for Afghanistan
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15 August marks a year since Kabul fell to the Taliban, and Afghanistan has drastically deteriorated. The last year has been marked by civilian casualties, extrajudicial killings, restrictions on women and girls’ rights, and the ongoing persecution of minorities, including Hazaras and Sikhs.

The situation for activists, journalists, former government employees and religious minorities is treacherous, and the fundamental human rights of many in Afghanistan continue to be violated.

Since the Taliban takeover, girls and women in Afghanistan have seen their rights disintegrate due to imposed measures, including drastic restrictions on their freedom of movement, limitations on employment, and banning from secondary education. 


The Hazara ethnic group has been persecuted and marginalised throughout Afghanistan’s history, having faced widespread killings and genocide during the Taliban’s 1990s regime. Such violence faces them again as they experience ongoing, systematic and targeted attacks — their lives remain in grave danger. 

Similar threats exist for regions that have historically resisted Taliban control, such as Badakhshan and Panjshir provinces.

The country has been crippled by the forces of the oppressive Taliban regime, with economic conditions have worsened since they seized power. 

The country faces drought and climate-change-induced natural disasters, they have been ravaged by poverty, leading to a country-wide famine and acute malnutrition. Millions of people have been displaced.

The former Morrison government committed 16,500 visas to be spaced out over four years. Only 6,000 visas were granted to people from Afghanistan in the last year — while over 211,100 people from Afghanistan have applied for humanitarian protection.

“Australia has a moral obligation to provide at least 20,000 emergency humanitarian visa places immediately,” Action for Afghanistan said in a statement. 

“The government must also ensure permanent protection to refugees already in Australia on uncertain temporary visas, and provide resettlement opportunities to refugees in Indonesia as well as remove all delays and restrictions on family reunification pathways,” they said. 

“Australia made significant contributions over its 20-year involvement in Afghanistan, in areas of civic life, education and the advancement in women’s rights,” said Sitarah Mohammadi, juris doctorate candidate and refugee advocate. 

“Alas, all strides made in freedom of media, women’s rights and equality for all citizens in Afghanistan, have been lost.”

“Over the last 12 months, people from Afghanistan have been calling the Australian government to act quickly to process their claims for humanitarian protection,” said Ms Mohammadi. “So far, we have seen very limited action from the government.

“For some, the waiting process has cost them their life. Our government must act with urgency, as people’s lives are on the line. We must honour our legacy in Afghanistan.”

“It’s heartbreaking to think that after 12 long painful months and a change of government, we are still calling for concrete action for Afghanistan,” said Shabnam Safa, chair of the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group.

“Refugees from Afghanistan in Australia are still in limbo on temporary protection visas with no definite end to their suffering in sight yet. 

“This has been an excruciatingly slow response from the Australian government, both the former and new. 

“This crisis is only getting worse, we cannot waste more time and must act with urgency.”

“When Kabul fell to the Taliban last year, we called on the previous government to take immediate action, but they didn’t listen,” said Barat Ali Batoor, photographer, filmmaker and human rights advocate from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

“We witnessed everything we were fearful for come to life,” he said. “We hope the new government will not waste time in taking action for Afghanistan.”

Mariam Veiszadeh, chief executive, lawyer and human rights advocate, talked about her personal circumstance; she is still advocating for her family under threat in Kabul, “the progress on their humanitarian application has been frustratingly slow”, she said. 

“In the case of my extended family member who was abducted last year by suspected Taliban militia groups, we recently received news confirming our worst fears, that his body had been found. The grave risk posed to the rest of the family is life threatening,” she said.

“We cannot stand by and watch as the human rights of a whole population collapses under the Taliban,” said Zaki Haidari, refugee rights campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.

“One year on, and we continue to see heartbreak, hardship and harrowing tales of a country that is losing faith with every day that passes for a future that once held so much hope for all of its citizens,” said Diana Sayed, CEO of Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights:

“We need the Australian government to join a united international response to end the nightmare of arbitrary detentions, torture, disappearances and summary executions.

“We must act together to hold the Taliban accountable,” Mr Haidari said. 

“The events happening in Afghanistan have a great impact on the well being of the diaspora community in Australia.”

“A year on since the fall of Kabul, we still witness horror, persecution and an incredible humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan,” said Sayed Rahmatullah Hussainizada, human rights lawyer and refugee advocate.

“What the Taliban has shown in the last year, is a testament that they’re willing to rule with impunity with no regards to human rights or international law.

“With a change of government, we hope for a renewed commitment to Afghanistan and our moral obligation.”

“We can no longer wait for the world to act — we must stand up against injustice and act in solidarity for the people of Afghanistan,” said Ms Sayed.

“Australia must act now,” said Mr Hussainizada.