In light of the rapidly deteriorating political and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, many Catholic leaders have called on the Australian Government to have a more generous humanitarian response to the people of Afghanistan, particularly those who have assisted Australian personnel there for years.
Several Catholic Bishops including Bishop Vincent Long and Archbishop Mark Coleridge have called on the Australian government to offer 20,000 humanitarian places (17,000 more than the 3000 the Australian Government has currently pledged) to Afghans who are fleeing the Taliban.
Archbishop Coleridge also added that Catholic agencies “stand ready to assist your government with resettlement of refugees as an expression of our great concern for the people of Afghanistan”.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP was pleased that the Morrison government commitment to take 3000 people from Afghanistan as a as a floor not a ceiling. “We pray that all those who need to flee to safety do make it out of the country before all avenues are closed and do find a safe haven said Archbishop Fisher in a media release launching the Archbishop’s Afghan Asylum Appeal
“Those lucky enough to make it to Australia seeking protection will need all the support that we can give. So today I am launching the Archbishop’s Afghan Asylum Appeal and committing the resources of our Catholic schools, health and welfare agencies to support our Afghan friends when they get to Australia.”
“We need to support Afghans, and we need to live up to our international obligations, and also live up to our status as a prosperous society, one with a courageous past that welcomed previous waves of refugees, Our solidarity with, and support for, the suffering Afghan people are essential for a long-term peace and flourishing of the whole human family.” Said Bishop Vincent Long, Chair of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice Mission and Service
All the Catholic Bishops of Victoria have expressed their solidarity for Afghans in Australia and their families back home. The Bishops affirmed that Afghans hold an important place in the hearts of Victorians and joined them in their deep concern for family and friends who are still in Afghanistan. In a joint statement, the Victorian Bishops urged the Government to have a just and compassionate response to the current situation in Afghanistan and to prioritise family reunification, particularly for those Afghans who are already living in Australia but who are still precluded by Government policy from applying for humanitarian visas for their immediate families to join them here.
The dire crisis also means that those from Afghanistan who are dispersed around the world including the 4300 Afghans in Australia on temporary protection visas Australia have no hope of returning to a safe country.
Over 300 organisations, faith groups and businesses wrote to the Prime Minister and every MP last week with several asks, which include evacuating everyone in grave risk of retaliation in Afghanistan, increasing the number of humanitarian places offered to those from Afghanistan and granting permanent protection to the Afghans who are already here on temporary visas.
All of them noted the particular risk to women and to those who might be persecuted because of their political opposition to the Taliban or those who held minority religious beliefs.
Catholic Leaders and Organisations Responses to the Crisis in Afghanistan:
- Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, “Bishops of Victoria express solidarity with Afghan community“, 26 August 2021
- Sydney Morning Herald, “Christian Leaders urge Morrison to take more Afghan Refugees”, 22 August 2021
- Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, “Increase Afghan intake, Archbishop Coleridge urges PM”, 20 August 2021
- Refugee Council of Australia, “Over 300 organisations, businesses and community groups call on all Parliamentarians to respond to the crisis in Afghanistan”, 20 August 2021 (several Catholic organisations are signatories)
- Caritas Australia, “Australian Government must respond to unfolding humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan”, 18 August 2021
- Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, “Church joins call for Australian support for Afghans”, 19 August 2021
- Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum, “CAPSA Urges Federal Government to do more to Protect Afghan Refugees”, 21 August 2021
- Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum, “CAPSA letter to Minister Andrews Re: Protection for Afghan people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas in Australia”, 17 August 2021
- Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, “JRS Australia Urges Action for Afghanistan”, 26 August 2021
- Catholics for Refugees, “Catholics Unite to call for Action from Scott Morrison”, 21 August 2021
- Catholic Social Services Victoria “CSSV stands in solidarity with our Afghan communities across Victoria”, 20 August 2021
Posted on 27 August 2021