Australian Red Cross has recommended Australia increase its refugee intake and develop a long-term strategy for Afghanistan, due to the complex, drawn-out humanitarian crisis.
In a submission today to the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Engagement in Afghanistan, Australian Red Cross recommended the government accept 20,000 people from Afghanistan who are in need of humanitarian protection, on top of Australia’s annual humanitarian intake of 13,750.
Red Cross also emphasised the importance of family reunion of family members separated in the crisis
“We know the hearts of Australians are open to more arrivals,” Vicki Mau, Head of Australian Red Cross Migration Support Programs said.
“While the current situation in Afghanistan might not be on the front page, it remains front of mind for those impacted.
“We are aware of people evacuated from Afghanistan, or who were already here - and whose family members remain there, and we hold serious concerns for women and children at risk.
“There is much evidence now of the serious impact separation has on mental health; the worry and fear for the safety of parents; children and other loved ones seeking to find refuge in Australia.” Ms Mau said.
Welcoming the Australian Government’s adoption of the humanitarian exemptions within the Taliban sanctions regime, Red Cross has also recommended the government implement long term humanitarian safeguards across the sanction’s regimes more broadly.
“Australia’s domestic laws should reflect the overall need for humanitarian exemptions to provide assurances to not just humanitarian agencies, but also public donors and financial institutions,” Yvette Zegenhagen, Head of International Humanitarian Law said.
Speaking to the recent evacuation of people from Afghanistan to Australia, Vicki Mau also noted the support from government and strong collaboration between settlement providers, all levels of government, services and local communities and local Afghan communities.
"People came together rapidly and did what was needed. We shared volunteers, addressed gaps, pitched in and made sure clients were supported, working through the challenges as they arose and developing and sharing ways of working."