Save the Children Australia is today calling on the Australian Government today to raise its humanitarian intake from Afghanistan to 20,000.
The humanitarian organisation – which has worked in Afghanistan since 1976 – says Australia’s recent commitment to take in 3000 Afghans is a good start, but Australia should increase that to 20,000 over its existing humanitarian intake over time.
Mr Ronalds said countries have an obligation under international law to allow refugees to ask for asylum and for safe passage to protect them from harm and to provide shelter – especially children.
In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Afghans, including tens of thousands of children, have fled violence into neighbouring countries. Some 100,000 have crossed through Iran and onto eastern Turkey, with an estimated 500 to 2,000 people arriving in Turkey every day since the beginning of July.
Mr Ronalds said Afghan children and their families who have left the country in recent weeks must be kept safe and their rights must be protected under international law and there should be an immediate moratorium on all forced returns of Afghan nationals.
“We are witnessing scenes of desperation in Afghanistan, where thousands of Afghans are trying to leave the country and unable to do so. We cannot abandon them,” Mr Ronalds said.
“And, at the same as reports emerge of some mothers handing their children over the gates at Kabul airport to military personnel, asking them to take their children to safety, countries are closing their borders and thousands of visa applications sit unprocessed.
“It is essential that in the early days of this crisis, countries keep their borders open and ensure that those arriving in their country, including children who have fled from violence, are safe and their rights are protected.
“Australia’s commitment to bring in 3000 Afghan people here is a good start and whilst we acknowledge COVID-19 is causing logistical difficulties, we can and should increase this to 20,000 over time.
“Save the Children stands ready to provide support to Afghan children displaced into the countries where we work, including separated and unaccompanied children. Our commitment to our work and staff in Afghanistan, to ensuring Afghan children a future free from violence, is as strong as ever.”
Notes for editors
Save the Children is an independent, impartial and politically neutral organisation that has worked in Afghanistan since 1976 to deliver lifesaving services to children and their families across the country but has had to temporarily suspended services. The organisation provided health, education, child protection, nutrition and livelihoods services, reaching over 1.6 million Afghans in 2020. We aim to resume our work on health, education and child protection as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Media please contact: Jane Gardner 0438 130 905