Reluctantly Acceptance: Responding to Afghan Refugees


Do not think for a minute that this is a kind and sincere thing in the aftermath of the fall of Kabul. Certainly a number of Afghans will find their way to Germany, Canada, the UK, the US and a much smaller number to Australia. But it will be part of the curtain act that, over time, will be remembered and will allow countries to revert to their harsh refugee policies.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel is none too enthusiastic on the reception of a large number of Afghan refugees. “We need to be realistic about who we can bring into the country and resettle in a safe and secure manner while providing them with the right opportunities for resettlement. “

This eccentric formulation resulted in the following formula: the UK will only accept 20,000 over five years. Only 5,000 will be admitted next year, after which, presumably, the situation will resolve itself. “What are the 15,000 supposed to do?” ” demand Chris Bryant of Labor, “Hang out and wait to be executed?”

However inadequate the British response, the Australian approach remains unmatched. Every apology has been made to delay, hamper, prevent an orderly transfer of Afghan interpreters and former security personnel out of the country. The Morrison government has become a prevaricator, waiting for the horse to race before even finding the barn. Instead of bothering to use strategic good judgment and see the inscription on the wall of the Kabul-based Afghan government, he waited months before deciding, brutally, to close the embassy at the end of May and then suggest that he should put in place Australian personnel to assist with the evacuation.

The number of humanitarian visas currently offered is a paltry 3,000. It is significantly lower than the number of Vietnamese accepted by the Fraser government after the fall of Saigon in 1975, which is estimated at 60,000. In 2015, 12,000 places were offered to Syrians fleeing their country. The Morrison government, on the other hand, believes that expanding Australia’s resettlement program beyond the current 13,750 is heresy.

Behind the argument of compassion, constipated at best, lies a marked reluctance to really open the doors for Afghans. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that the Afghans have been an important complement to those sea arrivals that Australian politicians hate as “illegals” deserving of indefinite detention in its Pacific concentration camp system. Many actually fled the Taliban to begin with, but that didn’t make immigration officials any gentler.

A US Navy tries to comfort an Afghan baby at Kabul airport. (Isaiah Campbell / USMC)

Like the Saturday newspaper for good reason describe In this case, Australia’s unsympathetic refugee policy has induced “a kind of moral numbness which puts decisions beyond the reach of logic or decency.” One can never say that Prime Minister Scott Morrison was taken by surprise: “he was already in the grip of indifference”, a “necessary to live with the refugee policy which he has spent years shaping”.

Despite the fall of the coalition-backed Afghan national government, Australian government officials did little to reassure the 4,200 Afghans already in Australia with precarious temporary protection visas that they would not be sent back at the moment. came. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne offered an evaluation on national radio, which was far from reassuring. “All Afghan citizens who are currently in Australia on a temporary visa will be taken care of by the Australian government and no Afghan visa holder will be invited to return to Afghanistan at this point.”

A grim reminder of the brutal and clearly not-honest approach by Australian authorities to Afghan refugees comes in the form of a refugee and former member of an Afghan government security agency who assisted coalition forces. To do this, he was attacked by the Taliban. He arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 after suffering a grenade attack on his home and receiving various warning letters from activists. For his efforts, he was sent to Manus Island, where he was officially recognized as a refugee in 2015. In 2019, he was transferred to Australia for treatment there during this brief window of opportunity under the legislation on medical evacuation now repealed.

In total, he spent eight years in detention, desperate to help his family leave the country. He had previously requested no less than three times to be returned to Papua New Guinea. “Every day Afghanistan is getting worse” he writes in an email to his case manager of the giant that is the Ministry of the Interior. “My family is in a dangerous place and I need help now, please. If you wait, I’ll lose my family. Why are you waiting The Taliban want to kill my family.

The email, read in open court, is part of a case the plaintiff, under the pseudonym F, has brought against the Australian government, demanding his release. He maintains that his detention prevents him from “moving my family out of Afghanistan to a safe country to save them from the Taliban.” The nature of his detention prevented him from “doing anything to help” his family.

On August 3, 2021, Rolf Driver, a Federal Court judge, fired F claims his detention was unlawful and refused an order “in the nature of a writ of habeas corpus requiring his immediate release”. Judge Driver concluded that the man was “a refugee and in need of resettlement”, ordering mediation between him and the Home Secretary. While Australia was not an option for resettlement, the applicant should have their PNG return request “settled”.

Morrison’s ministers are full of apologies for Australia’s unimpressive efforts. Peter Dutton, the country’s defense minister, has repeatedly insisted that dealing with paperwork is indeed a difficult thing, because some of the visa applicants cannot be trusted. having helped Australia and other coalition forces in the past, they had been flexible with shifting allegiances. “I am not bringing people to Australia who pose a threat to us or who have harmed us in Afghanistan. With such an attitude, closing the door to suffering, even to those who were part of the absurd coalition state-building project in Afghanistan, will do little to disturb a shapeless and unimaginative conscience.

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