Afghanistan has been in the news for as long as I can remember. It has become a popular trope used in the media, a background to narratives where the West could be a saviour. It was synonymous with violence, danger, and menace. Growing up, I felt as though these were the only characteristics people saw in my country and with a lack of positive representation, I was admittedly afraid to accept my cultural identity with pride.
As I grew older, I learned about my parents’ homeland, about the language I would speak, the music I would listen to, the traditions I would partake in, and the struggles that those closest to me had grown from.
I am a proud Afghan. I realised how beautiful my country truly was, how resilient and hospitable the people were. How Afghan’s are fiercely and inherently strong and kind. Everyone should recognise that. We can’t sit and watch all that get corrupted. We need to take action.
The news of what is happening in Afghanistan is inescapable. Although it is distressing to witness what is occurring in Afghanistan, we have to take action and push our government to act on the humanitarian crisis that is happening. People have been posting and resharing resource after resource and understandably, it may feed into some confusion, leaving people clueless as to where to start, what Afghanistan is currently facing, and how they can help.
Many Afghan people are in a state of desperation to leave the country and whatever Taliban rule may consist of. Meanwhile, families of immigrated Afghans around the world are doing everything they can to retrieve their families from Afghanistan.
If you are unaware of the history of Afghanistan or what is happening now in the country, I've given a brief run-down of the situation and why Afghanistan is in crisis here.
What can you do to help?
You have probably seen many links going around, and if you would like to help, I've collected some of the useful resources you can use to help us get through to the Australian Government in providing refuge for Afghans. We must push for our local MPs to use their voice and influence. Getting in contact with your ministers of parliament will push this urgent conversation further.
1. Send an Email to Alex Hawke (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection):
To be eligible for Australia’s Global Special Humanitarian Visa, the person applying must meet 11 points of criteria that require extensive and sometimes expensive documents. The process that is currently in place is tedious and considerably unreasonable for a humanitarian visa ,thus barring many Afghans from being eligible. Additionally, beyond this criteria, there are only 3000 spots available for the current scheme.
In writing to Alex Hawke, we must urge him and the Australian government to allocate more spots for Afghans to be able to seek refuge in Australia as well as to make these opportunities more accessible. In comparison to Canada’s humanitarian scheme, which only consists of a few simple steps, Australia’s humanitarian aid is quite restrictive.
You can use the template attached to this website to help out.
2. Sign a petition:
Action for Afghanistan: It takes two seconds to sign. Click here to go to the website.
This petition can become a testament to action discussed earlier. It also serves to push the protection surrounding Afghans who are already within Australia on temporary visas. Signing this petition urges Prime Minister Scott Morrison to assist fleeing Afghans by:
Committing to an additional humanitarian intake of at least 20,000
Expediting the resettlement of interpreters in Afghanistan, guides and other personnel involved in Australia’s mission in Afghanistan
Granting permanent protection to more than 5,100 refugees from Afghanistan, predominantly from the historically persecuted Hazara ethnic groups, who are currently on temporary protection visas in Australia
Granting amnesty to all nationals of Afghanistan currently in Australia who fear returning to Afghanistan
Prioritising the family reunification visas of Afghan-Australians
Lifting the ban on resettlement of refugees to Australia through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Indonesia
3. Write to your local MP:
Pushing for attention is one way to highlight the urgency of this situation. A few MPs such as John Alexander have called on the government to increase the Afghan refugee intake. This kind of action is prompted and advanced by people like you and me. Our MPs are there for a reason; to be a spokesperson for the areas they represent. Suburbs like in Western Sydney where the Afghan diaspora predominantly have been voicing their concerns, resulting in the MPs of Parramatta and Granville leading discussions about solutions with their respective communities. You can be a catalyst for change in your local areas.
Find your Local MP here.
You can use this as a template to write to your local MP.
We can’t provide refuge for every Afghan, and truthfully, many Afghans do not want to flee. Instead, they want to better the environments they already live in and we should be able to support them. Afghanistan and many of its citizens have been left without jobs, women have a heightened fear of leaving the house, and in the process of fleeing other provincial towns, many have been internally displaced.
Humanitarian work traditionally involves helping the disadvantaged country and the people within it. These charities have been present, but of course with the resurgence of news, they are gaining more attention. Donating to the charities below will help people within Afghanistan with a multitude of resources. Abandoning the country isn’t always an option and it shouldn’t be. We should always strive to make the world around us a better place and provide aid for those less fortunate than we are.
Be smart about what sources you get your information from
There is a lot of propaganda that is circulating the internet that is spreading false information about the Taliban. Joe.co.uk is a great example of an outlet you should not subscribe to. These articles and outlets are perpetuating unverified and false information that only contributes to any toxic racial stereotypes and misinforms the public. Yes, there is extreme danger and injustice associated with the Taliban, however it does not entitle outlets to spread false propaganda about the country.
Finally, check up on your Afghan friends. Although it may not seem like a lot to you, showing that support is incredibly meaningful to Afghans that are experiencing these hardships. Many of our family members are still in the country and these recent events can be immensely distressing. The images that are being shown are horrendous and can be extremely confronting. May I remind those who are trying to help, broadcasting the graphic suffering of Afghans is more detrimental than helpful. Social media can be incredibly jarring, and the accessibility to these images and videos allows people to spread it further. I kindly ask people to be respectful to the people that they are helping and honour the dignity of many who are suffering. Showcasing someone at the lowest point in their life to garner attention to a situation is in no way supportive of Afghans and their experiences.
As my mother always says, you must be the change you want to see in the world. Please help Afghans have a chance at life. Please help provide safety for the children, and help create opportunities for the young Afghan generations.
You can be part of the change that allows people not only equal opportunities in life, but the reality of waking up the next day, safe and warm. Not to the sound of gunshots, but maybe to the sound of birds. Help provide people with the comfort of knowing they can leave their house one day and be free to live the life they deserve.
If these events have affected you or caused any anxiety, please reach out to support services:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
If you need any further assistance or guidance, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me.