Wide ranging groups from the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury have combined to bring the plight of Afghan people seeking safety to the attention of Federal member, Susan Templeman.
In a meeting convened by the Sydney Alliance on the 11 October, Macquarie residents members spoke passionately about the issues facing people in Afghanistan living under the occupation of the Taliban.
Esmatullah Noori, an Afghani Hazara humanitarian refugee now settled in Australia spoke about his own history in which he was forced to flee in 2012 and how living in Australia has provided a future, employment and safety. Esmat emphasised that he fears for the safety of his mother and his cousin, hearing daily reports of serious violence, murders and repression of rights.
Speaking from the Springwood Anglicans, Jozika Crncec talked about her involvement in a community support group that has assisted an Afghan family to successfully settle in Springwood. Jozika said that the group expected that the young family might decide to ultimately relocate to an area with more people from their Afghan community but the strength of the local community welcome to the new residents has meant the family has felt that they have a real home in Springwood. Jozika added that the exchange between the family and the support group was more enriching than she could have ever expected.
Michael Want from Hawkesbury Vinnies spoke about the need for compassion. He said, “All Afghanis seek from Australians are compassion, recognition and acceptance”.
The meeting, with representatives from young people, the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, Catholic, Uniting and Anglican churches, community groups as well as individuals with linkages and commitment to Afghanistan found a sympathetic ally in Ms Templeman.
They made four demands including calling for permanent protection to refugees already in Australia, facilitating flights into and out of Kabul to bring more people out, matching the Canadian additional intake of 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan and providing family reunification pathways.
Ms Templeman committed to taking these demands up with her counterparts in the ALP and to feeding back to the community.
The Sydney Alliance is a coalition of faith based, community groups and unions with an interest in improving the quality of life and opportunity for people living in Sydney. Mary Waterford, Chair of the Sydney Alliance, organised this meeting as part of a campaign to extend the response of government to this urgent humanitarian crisis. Mary said, “It is clear that so many people are concerned about people from Afghanistan and the risks that particularly Hazaras are facing. Together Macquarie residents can make a difference in people’s lives, even people they don’t yet know!”.