World Vision calls on Australia to accept extra 20,000 Afghan refugees

A brain drain in Afghanistan would be devastating for the country, and the brightest Afghans will be critical in holding the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to account in maintaining two decades of development gains, World Vision Australia said.

The international aid organisation also said Australia should step up and open its arms to Afghans who fear for their safety, and welcome 20,000 refugees into the country.

World Vision Australia said important development gains had been made in the country in the past 20 years, and both male and female Afghans who want to stay must be guaranteed safety, security and dignity from the Taliban.

“We know there are fear in people’s hearts and they are running, there is a lot of anxiety as they remember what life was like 20 years ago under the Taliban rule,” said World Vision Afghanistan National Director Asuntha Charles.

“But we hope the assurances that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan have made both publicly and privately that we can continue our operations will be upheld – and we don’t see a brain drain from this country. The ongoing development of Afghanistan is dependent on retaining our brightest and best, and it is our hope that the men and women who want to stay in this country will be safe and respected, and afforded a dignified life.”

World Vision CEO Daniel Wordsworth said the situation in Afghanistan was heartbreaking, but one way Australians could help was to show compassion in the form of a refugee intake, given its recent military engagement there.

Thousands of Afghan children who will suffer if the country does not act to resettle vulnerable refugees and displaced families immediately.

“We have been here before. Australia opened its doors to thousands of Vietnamese who became refugees as a result of the Vietnam War – a war that saw 60,000 Australians serve over 10 years, with over 500 making the ultimate sacrifice.

“Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser allowed more than 50,000 Vietnamese to restart their lives in Australia. Then, as now, there were thousands of people worried about their futures. It was a compassionate and courageous decision then, but was the right thing to do – as it is today.”

Many of those refugees made Australia their home and have made a remarkable contribution to our country, he said. Mr Wordsworth welcomed the initial allocation made on Wednesday of 3000 places within the existing humanitarian intake and was encouraged to learn that this number would increase over this year.

“Australia now understands it has a responsibility to protect vulnerable Afghans and should create a special one-off intake of 20,000 additional humanitarian places, phased in over the coming years.”

Mr Wordsworth said World Vision had already been responding to the humanitarian needs of internally displaced people under the current declaration, but were expecting an influx of refugees into neighbouring countries.

Reports from Afghanistan show children are facing uncertainty over where their next meal will come from, he said. More than 13 million people in Afghanistan are facing crisis levels of hunger, or even worse*, according to the World Food Programme.

“Decades of war, displacement and now a looming famine represent a huge humanitarian catastrophe that has now escalated. Every single child and family are basically at breaking point.”

As World Vision continues its own humanitarian response, it said Australia should work with governments in the region to keep borders open and strengthen preparedness plans in the case of a looming mass refugee influx across borders.

An offer of 20,000 extra humanitarian places would be consistent with the commitment made by Canada this week, Mr Wordsworth said.

Australia had previously announced an additional 12,000 humanitarian places for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in recent years.

For more information please contact: Mike Bruce on 0403 920 189 or

*IPC 3 hunger level or worse

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