29 March 2022
MEDIA RELEASE: Christian leaders welcome lift in Afghan refugee intake
Christian leaders welcome the Australian Government’s commitment in the 2022 Federal Budget to take in an additional 16,500 refugees from Afghanistan.
A movement of tens of thousands of Australian Christians supported by the heads of every mainline denomination, brought together by Micah Australia, has consistently joined Australia’s Afghan diaspora, veterans and the refugee sector, in calling on the Prime Minister to lift the government’s intake of Afghan refugees beyond our existing humanitarian program.
“Christians across all walks of life and perspectives have been united in their concern for the wellbeing of the Afghanistan community and the horrors they face under Taliban rule,” said Reverend Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah Australia.
“For two decades, Australians fought and died for the future of the people of Afghanistan.
We have a moral obligation to help bring its people to safety and I am pleased the Australian Government has listened to our calls.
“This announcement will help some of the most vulnerable Afghan people displaced by the crisis inflicted upon them by the Taliban and those still devastated by food and supply shortages.
“As many refugees and migrants over Australia’s history have, Afghan refugees will undoubtedly contribute to our local economy and our vibrant culture as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to battle cost of living pressures.
In January, the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the government would allocate 15,000 visas over four years for Afghan nationals fleeing the Taliban – 10,000 from within the humanitarian program and 5,000 within the family stream.
This latest announcement means Australia will offer more than 30,000 refugee visas to Afghan nationals over the next four years.
“It was critical to Australian Christians that these 16,500 places were made additional to our existing Refugee and Humanitarian Program, as we need the capacity to resettle refugees displaced by persecution in other countries.” Explained Costello.
“Looking ahead, the overall Refugee and Humanitarian program – capped at 13,750 after it was cut by 5,000 places in the 2020 budget – surely needs to rise.
“The global refugee crisis is at its highest level ever since the end of the second world war. From Ukraine to Myanmar, Iraq, Syria, Ethiopia, Yemen, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, those most vulnerable will need Australia not to turn away from those seeking sanctuary.
“In addition to tonight’s Budget, we urge the Government to provide a pathway to permanent protection for those who have been languishing in limbo for nearly a decade on temporary protection visas and expediting family reunification applications from thousands who remain separated from their loved ones.
“We also continue to call on the Government to increase its humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan from $65m to $100m a year for the next several years, to stabilise the escalating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to protect vulnerable groups in the long-run.”
More than 162,000 people signed onto the Afghan-Australian led Action For Afghanistan petition and every mainline Christian denomination, as well as the Australian Christian Lobby, has thrown its support behind the campaign Christians United For Afghanistan.
Further, more than 300 organisations, businesses and community groups signed onto a joint letter from the Refugee Council of Australia, united in a call for federal parliamentarians to commit to additional humanitarian places.
“We thank every single one of those people and organisations for their advocacy and we are proud to have joined with them,” Reverend Costello said.
“Together we have lifted our calls up to the Australian Government and everyone involved should feel proud knowing an additional 16,500 Afghans will be able to seek refuge in Australia as a result.
Contact: Taylah Hill 0466 657 833