CAPSA Newsletter March 2022
Dear CAPSA community,
We begin this newsletter with positive news. Firstly, the Morrison Government has announced that 16,500 additional places will be provided to refugees fleeing the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan under the 2022-23 Federal Budget. We would like to acknowledge the tireless efforts of diaspora leaders through the Action for Afghanistan campaign. Through close collaboration with this diaspora-led campaign, as well as Christians United for Afghanistan led by Micah Australia, the CAPSA community has advocated persistently for these additional places.
Secondly, the Australian and New Zealand Governments have come to an agreement to resettle 450 refugees who have been held in Australian offshore detention. They will be resettled in New Zealand over the next three years. It has been almost a decade since New Zealand first proposed the resettlement deal.
In the remainder of this newsletter you’ll find a number of updates on the conflict in Ukraine, the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as well as updates regarding other key issues. We also provide an overview of how you can get involved with the Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia’s Group Mentorship Program.
Wishing you a safe and happy Easter period.
The CAPSA team
Federal Budget 2022-23: 16,500 additional places for refugees from Afghanistan, but more is needed for refugees and people seeking asylum
- Action for Afghanistan has welcomed the announcement of an additional 16,500 humanitarian places over four years for refugees fleeing Afghanistan.
- This announcement comes after almost eight months of dedicated community campaigning for the Federal Government to do more to support those affected by the Afghanistan crisis.
Key points from the Federal Budget 2022-23:
- The Government will provide $665.9 million over four years from 2022-23 for an additional 16,500 humanitarian places for Afghan nationals across the 4 years from 2022-23, to address the anticipated need for places.
- The Government will allocate $1.28 billion in 2022-23 to onshore detention and compliance. This is an increase of $20.6 million compared with spending in 2021-22.
- With just 112 refugees and people seeking asylum currently held on Nauru, the Government will allocate $482.5 million to its offshore processing policy in 2022-23.
- CAPSA published a media release commending the Federal Government for providing additional humanitarian places, but expressed concern in relation to the ongoing funding allocations for onshore and offshore processing.
- CAPSA’s Federal Budget media release echoed the responses of the Refugee Council of Australia, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and other organisations across the sector.
After almost a decade, New Zealand resettlement deal finally accepted!
- After years of advocacy, organisations in the refugee sector and community leaders have welcomed Australia’s agreement with New Zealand to resettle 450 refugees who were subject to Australia’s offshore processing regime.
- Almost a decade in the making, the deal will see 150 refugees who have been held in offshore detention resettled in New Zealand every year for three years.
- The arrangement is primarily open to those who are currently on Nauru, of which there are 112 refugees, as well as another 1,168 who have been placed temporarily in Australia for medical treatment.
- The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre estimates that there will still be around 900 refugees and people seeking asylum who will be left ‘without a clear resettlement option’. The Human Rights Law Centre has also highlighted that there are ‘still too many left behind’ from this deal, who deserve the right to safely resettle.
- Disappointingly, people left on Papua New Guinea have not been included in this resettlement deal. However, the UNHCR and New Zealand Government have announced they are working concurrently to provide settlement support to refugees who remain in Papua New Guinea.
UNHCR estimate that 3.5 million have crossed Ukraine borders, with 6.5 million internally displaced
- The UNHCR has estimated that over a quarter of Ukraine’s population has now been displaced in just over one month of the conflict brought on by the invasion by Russian forces.
- More than 3.5 million people from Ukraine have fled across the country’s borders, with over 2 million crossing into Poland. It has been estimated that around 6.5 million have been displaced internally, with a UNHCR spokesperson labelling these numbers ‘another tragic milestone’ for the people of Ukraine.
- In a recent media release, CAPSA joined calls for peace in Ukraine and urged the Federal government to provide a more generous humanitarian response for people fleeing conflict across the world.
- Pope Francis has released a prayer for Ukraine, calling for peace and safety.
- Organisations in the refugee sector, such as Refugee Council of Australia and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, have welcomed the Federal government’s decision to provide new temporary protection visas for those fleeing Ukraine. The new Temporary Humanitarian Concern visa (subclass 786) will allow Ukrainian refugees to work, study, access Medicare and receive other supports. Despite this announcement being positive for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, advocates highlighted the struggle and hardship for many others face who flee conflict and seek safety in Australia.
Afghanistan humanitarian crisis worsens
- Despite the Morrison Government’s welcome support for Ukrainian refugees, advocates have highlighted the clear disparity between Australia’s response to Ukraine and their response to Afghanistan and other global conflicts. As the conflict in Afghanistan remains ongoing, many Afghan refugees in Australia who are kept on temporary protection visas are concerned for the safety of their families and question whether they will ever be able to reunite.
- The World Food Program estimates that 95% of people in Afghanistan face insufficient food consumption, as the ongoing effects of the Taliban takeover and ‘spillover effects of the situation in Ukraine’ impact prices and supply chains.
- Reports continue to emerge that the Taliban have been conducting ‘house-to-house sweeps’ across Kabul. A spokesman claimed this formed part of their security efforts to identify ‘kidnappers, thieves and looters’.
Newly arrived refugees seeking support from Australian community, CRSA calls for volunteers
- Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA) has put a call out for volunteers to provide practical support for newly arrived Afghan refugees in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Toowoomba as part of their Group Mentorship Program (GMP).
- Participating in the program involves:
- Getting together a group of five or more adults who live in your town/city;
- Undertaking six hours of training on how to provide practical support to newly arrived refugees (two online workshops);
- Submitting clear police and working with children checks; and
- Being matched up with a newly arrived refugee household who your group will then provide practical support to over a 6 to 12-month period.
- You can read more about the GMP on the CRSA website here. If you’re interested in finding out more, CRSA will also be holding a number of information sessions:
- 7pm AEST 13 April 2022
- 1pm AEST 1 June 2022
Other News and Updates
- An Afghanistan-Australian family, represented by the Human Rights Law Centre, has recently launched a legal challenge against the Federal Government. The family, who have waited over four years to be reunited in Australia, claim the Minister for Immigration ‘has unreasonably delayed their reunion with no explanation for the delay’.
- An Iranian man in his 30s was found dead last weekend in his room at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. The Australian Border Force has confirmed that his death has been referred for investigation.
- The Refugee Council of Australia has estimated that 28,382 visas have been lost since 2020 under the Morrison Government. Alongside other refugee advocacy groups, they implore the Government to reinstate these lost visas.
- Data recently published by the Department of Home Affairs stipulates that the updated average length of time spent in Australian immigration detention is now 697 days.
- Despite there being more than 24 million people in Yemen in need of humanitarian support, a reduction in funding was confirmed at a recent high-level Yemen Pledging Conference and international non-government organisations working in the region are deeply concerned.
Upcoming Events and Actions
- Take part in the national day of action on Palm Sunday 2022, at your local Palm Sunday Rally! Check out your local rally on the Australian Refugee Advocacy Network events page.
- Email your local MP ahead of the upcoming election, and urge the Federal Government to reinstate the humanitarian visas that have been lost since 2020 through the Refugee Council of Australia’s online advocacy action.
- The Australian Human Rights Institute has a number of upcoming webinars on the situation in Afghanistan. Upcoming sessions include ‘Protecting the Vulnerable – Refugees and Internally Displaced People’ and ‘Healthcare in Danger’.
- The ‘Fair Go for Refugees’ online forum run by the Australian Refugee Advocacy Network will be held on Wednesday 6th April ahead of the Walk for Justice and Freedom for Refugees.
- The Monthly’s opinion piece on Australia’s long-anticipated acceptance of the New Zealand resettlement deal.
- The UNHCR has listed five powerful movies about the refugee crisis that have featured in this year’s Oscars line-up.
- The 7am Podcast episode, released earlier this month, takes a look into the concerning progression of the Strengthening the Character Test Bill and explores how the Morrison Government has deported more than 4,000 non-citizens since the last election.