Australia’s major church denominations and leading Christian NGOs have come together in a mission to support Afghan refugees, launching the Christians United for Afghanistan campaign.
Coordinated by Micah Australia, the Christians United for Afghanistan campaign is aimed at amplifying Christian voices from around Australia and calling on the federal government to commit to increasing its intake of Afghan refugees to 20,000, and providing for their ongoing wellbeing and that of their families.
Already the National Council of Churches in Australia, Jesuit Social Services and many other organisations and groups have joined the campaign and signed on to support the increase.
Under Australia's current humanitarian visa program, the government has committed to providing 3,000 places to Afghan refugees. Priority is being given to people with families already based in the country, as well as to women, girls, children and persecuted minorities. This intake of 3,000 is not new but falls within Australia’s existing humanitarian visa program, which currently provides 13,750 places annually.
Last week, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, urging his government to be generous in its assistance to the Afghan people.
‘Australia has stepped up before in response to significant humanitarian crises, and I urge your government to be generous,’ he wrote, adding that Catholic agencies ‘stand ready to assist your government with resettlement of refugees as an expression of our great concern for the people of Afghanistan’.
The UNHCR estimates that as of 2021, more than 550,000 Afghans have already fled their homes – 80% of them women and children. 'This crisis has already shown its power to unite us across theological, political and denominational lines' said Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah.
'The risk now is that this initial outpouring of energy dissipates, without Australia having made a just and compassionate commitment to help the most vulnerable Afghan refugees. We want to ensure our nation responds in a way that we can look back on proudly in generations to come.'
Tamara Domicelj, Country Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, called on the government to show leadership and compassion by scaling its efforts to protect people from Afghanistan.
'JRS Australia has served, accompanied, and advocated for and with people from Afghanistan for many years and stands in solidarity with the diaspora in this time of extraordinary pain and need.'
Visit Sign the Call to join the campaign
This is a loud and urgent call from Christians across all walks of life and perspectives, united in concern for the wellbeing of the Afghan community. The campaign will provide the list of signatories to the federal government to show the strong Christian support for immediate action.
Melbourne Catholic25 August 2021
Melbourne Catholic20 August 2021