Over 50 local church leaders have signed letters that were sent to five key MPs today, appealing for them to take an additional 20,000 Afghan refugees who are most at risk from the Taliban.
The letters are directed to Liberal MPs Prime Minister Scott Morrison; Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce; Treasurer Josh Frydenberg; Karen Andrews, Minister for Home Affairs; and Peter Dutton, Minister for Defence.
Each letter is signed by church leaders in the MP’s local electorate from various denominations, including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, Uniting and Salvation Army.
Church leaders write they are “prompted by our Christian faith to speak out” about “our deep concern at the situation in Afghanistan”.
“We’re hoping the government might make an announcement that would give many … who have families or friends in Afghanistan some semblance of hope.” – Matt Darvas, Micah Australia
The letters appeal to the Australian government to “declare an intake of an additional 20,000 refugees focused on those most at risk from the Taliban (just as the UK and Canada have announced and like Australia did in 2015 for 12,000 refugees from Syria). And provide additional resources to Home Affairs immigration and settlement services, to ensure the continued processing of claims from other refugee communities.”
In addition, they also call on the government to grant permanent protection to Afghan refugees already in Australia; to make immediate arrangements to bring the families of refugees from Afghanistan to Australia; and to provide further humanitarian aid to NGOs and organisations working in Afghanistan.
The latest letters to MPs follow a previous letter to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke – signed by 50 church leaders in the Mitchell Electorate in Sydney.
The letters are being coordinated by Micah Australia – a coalition of Australian Christians that includes individuals, churches and Christian development agencies. Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah, and Matt Darvas, Micah’s National Director, are hoping the mounting pressure on Liberal MPs will push them to act on the concerns raised by church leaders very soon.
“With Parliament back this week, we’re hoping the government might make an announcement that would give many in our communities who have families or friends in Afghanistan some semblance of hope,” Darvas told Eternity.
The letters are part of a broader campaign being coordinated by Micah, Common Grace, The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) and National Council of Churches Australia, called Christians United for Afghanistan, through which 14,000 Christians, every mainline denomination and over 250 local churches, have signed a petition calling for a special intake of 20,000 places for refugees from Afghanistan.
“The harrowing scenes of refugees fleeing Afghanistan at Kabul Airport may be gone, but there is still much to be done.” – Kanishka Raffel, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney
Among the signatories is Sydney Anglican Archbishop Kanishka Raffel.
“The harrowing scenes of refugees fleeing Afghanistan at Kabul Airport may be gone, but there is still much to be done,” Raffel told Eternity.
“We are calling for simple and straightforward measures such as a boost in the refugee intake, especially for those at risk, and to protect and reunite refugee families already in Australia.”
The Archbishop continued: “Our nation can reaffirm its 20-year long commitment to the region by supporting those groups providing emergency and long term help. We know the plight of many is desperate – let’s offer them help and hope. God cares for the widows and the orphans and we are right to do the same.”