Religious leaders step up pressure on top MPs to protect Afghan asylum seekers
More than 50 local church leaders signed letters that were sent to five key MPs today, calling on them to take another 20,000 Afghan refugees most threatened by the Taliban.
The letters are addressed to Liberal MPs Prime Minister Scott Morrison; Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce; Treasurer Josh Frydenberg; Karen Andrews, Home Secretary; and Peter Dutton, Minister of Defense.
Each letter is signed by the religious leaders of the MP’s local electorate of various faiths including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, Uniting and Salvation Army.
Church leaders write that they are “prompted by our Christian faith to speak out” of “our deep concern over the situation in Afghanistan.”
“We hope the government could make an announcement that would give many people… who have families or friends in Afghanistan a semblance of hope. – Matt Darvas, Micah Australia
The letters call on the Australian government to “ddeclare a catch of a Additional 20,000 refugees focused on those most threatened by the Taliban (just as the UK and Canada announced and as Australia did in 2015 for 12,000 refugees from Syria). And provide additional resources to Home Affairs Immigration and Settlement Services, to ensure continued processing of applications from other refugee communities.
In addition, they also call on the government to grant permanent protection to Afghan refugees already in Australia; to make meimmediate arrangements to bring Afghan refugee families to Australia; and provide more humanitarian aid to NGOs and organizations working in Afghanistan.
The latest letters to MPs follow an earlier letter to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke – signed by 50 church leaders from the Mitchell electorate in Sydney.
The letters are 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, national director of Micah, hope the growing pressure on Liberal MPs will prompt them to act on concerns raised by church leaders very soon.
“With the return of Parliament this week, we hope the government could make an announcement that would give many in our communities who have families or friends in Afghanistan a semblance of hope,” Darvas said. Eternity.
The letters are part of a larger campaign coordinated by Micah, Common Grace, The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) and the National Council of Churches Australia, called Christians United for Afghanistan, through which 14,000 Christians, from all over denominations and more than 250 local churches have signed a petition calling for a special contribution of 20,000 places for refugees from Afghanistan.
“The harrowing scenes of refugees fleeing Afghanistan at Kabul airport may have disappeared, but there is still a lot to be done. – Kanishka Raffel, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney
Among the signatories is the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Kanishka Raffel.
“The poignant scenes of refugees fleeing Afghanistan at Kabul airport may have disappeared, but there is still a lot to be done,” Raffel said. Eternity.
“We call for simple and straightforward measures such as increasing the number of refugees, especially for those at risk, and protecting and reuniting refugee families already in Australia.”
The Archbishop continued, “Our nation can reaffirm its 20-year commitment to the region by supporting groups providing emergency and long-term aid. We know that the fate of many is desperate – give them help and hope. God cares for widows and orphans and we are right to do the same.