“Turning love and compassion into action”: A Call to Prayer and Action for Afghanistan

On 28th September, over 200 people from across the CAPSA community gathered together online for a webinar calling for action in Afghanistan as a part of CAPSA’s National Week of Prayer and Action 2021. 

Our facilitator for the evening, Sister Libby Rogerson opened the webinar reading a reflection by Pope Francis for the 107th World Migrant and Refugee Sunday which called on Catholics to welcome migrants and refugees at this critical time. Sister Libby carried this sense of reflection and action throughout the evening as she welcomed each guest speaker and guided attendees through each practical action. 

Tamara Domicelj, co-Chair of CAPSA and Country Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, outlined to attendees CAPSA’s engagement with the Action for Afghanistan campaign. CAPSA is urging the Federal Government to provide 20,000 extra refugee places, grant permanent protection for those already in Australia and make immediate arrangements for family reunification.

As this webinar was a ‘call to action’ of the CAPSA community, there were three simple yet effective actions that attendees were encouraged to take (which you can still take now!): Sign the Action for Afghanistan petition, tweet PM Scott Morrison to commit to an intake of 20,000 additional refugees from Afghanistan, and email your local MP urging them to take #ActionForAfghanistan. 

Attendees of the webinar were fortunate to hear from leaders from the Afghanistan-Australian community, who shared their own personal stories of displacement, provided insight into the situation in Afghanistan and highlighted what action the diaspora community is calling for. Zaki Haidari, a 2020 Australian Human Rights Commission Human Rights Hero and Leadership Coordinator at Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, spoke of the dire situation facing minorities in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. He also highlighted the constant state of limbo faced by refugees on temporary visas in Australia, calling attention to the reality that “…we cannot go back to Afghanistan, but we cannot live here permanently”.

Shabnam Safa, Chair of the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG), then spoke of the immediate response to the crisis from the Afghanistan-Australian Advocacy Network (AAAN) through their Action for Afghanistan campaign. She made a rallying call on the CAPSA community to take action and stand in solidarity with those in Afghanistan “…this is what Australia is about: communities banding together to support each other”.

Speaking to the webinar from a faith-based perspective Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, a Jesuit priest and human rights lawyer, called on attendees to build bridges, not walls towards the world and those in need. He reminded us of the continuing issues faced by refugees in Australia, and that “(we) need to give refugees permanent protection here in Australia” as our first action. As the final speaker of the night Nishadh Rego, Jesuit Refugee Service Australia’s Policy, Advocacy and Communications Manager, outlined in further detail CAPSA’s strategic response to the Afghanistan Crisis. Quoting Anthony Matthews from the Good Shepherd Parish of Plumpton in West Sydney, he encouraged attendees to “turn love and compassion into action” by taking part in CAPSA’s #ActionforAfghanistan efforts. 

CAPSA is grateful for the guest speakers who gave their time to speak at the webinar, and to all those who attended, for standing in solidarity together with those affected by the Afghanistan Crisis. 

If you weren’t able to attend or would like to watch again, you can see the webinar recording here: CAPSA Webinar: A Call to Prayer and Action – YouTube

Looking for other ways to take action? Find out more here: CAPSA National Week of Prayer and Action 2021 – CAPSA 

Key resources mentioned by our speakers: