How many Afghans are Australia and other nations resettling?
Australia, Britain and Canada are among the nations to make changes to visa programs in response to the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Countries across the world are rushing to evacuate their citizens and at-risk Afghans after the Taliban’s lightning-fast takeover of Afghanistan.
There have been chaotic scenes in recent days in Afghanistan, with many locals fearing reprisal from the Taliban desperate to leave the war-torn country experiencing what some have described as a “humanitarian disaster”.
Western nations have been urged to take in fleeing Afghans as refugees, and some countries have already set up special programs.
But what is Australia doing, and how does it compare to other nations?
Here’s what you need to know.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday said the government expects to provide around 3,000 visas for Afghan applicants this financial year.
Visas granted to fleeing Afghans will come from the existing intake of 13,750, rather than a special allocation, though Afghans will be given priority processing.
The move falls short of commitments made by other nations.
While Canada and Britain have announced they would take in up to 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next few years, Mr Morrison said Australia has “no clear plans” to operate a program of a similar scale.
“Australia is not going into that territory. What we’re focused on is right here and right now,” he said.
The prime minister on Tuesday conceded Australia would not be able to rescue all its former interpreters and staff that assisted its 20-year mission in Afghanistan.
The government says it has granted more than 8,500 visas to Afghans through Australia’s humanitarian program since 2013.
More than 400 Afghans who worked with Australia in Afghanistan have arrived in the country with their families since April, it says.
Britain’s resettlement scheme offers an initial 5,000 places during its first year, rising to up to 20,000 in the long term.
The government said priority would be given to those most at risk, including Afghan women, children and others forced to flee or facing threats and persecution from the hardliners, offering them a chance to remain in Britain indefinitely.
“This resettlement scheme will be kept under further review for future years, with up to a total of 20,000 in the long term,” the Home Office said in a statement.
The scheme is modelled on that which resettled 20,000 refugees from the Syria conflict from 2014 to this year.
“Our country has a proud history of offering sanctuary to those in need. We will not abandon people who have been forced to flee their homes and are now living in terror of what might come next,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said.
Like Australia, Britain has faced pressure to do more to help resettle Afghan interpreters.
An existing scheme has specifically for former staff and their families has already seen 2,000 Afghans arrive. It’s expected that number will rise to 5,000 by the end of this year.
Canada has said it plans to resettle more than 20,000 vulnerable Afghans including women, human rights workers, members of the LGBTIQ+ community and reporters.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said last week the effort is in addition to an existing program to resettle interpreters, embassy workers and their families.
Canada’s new plan covers people who want to leave Afghanistan and those already in neighbouring countries.
A timetable has not been set yet.
US, New Zealand and Europe
Other countries that deployed troops to Afghanistan alongside Australia, including the United States and New Zealand, have pledged to help resettle Afghans without announcing dedicated schemes.
The US last month launched ‘Operation Allies Refuge’, aimed at securing flights for at-risk Afghans.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday some 2,000 Afghans have been brought to the US through the program so far.
Authorities in New Zealand said on Monday they would try to evacuate Afghans who worked with the New Zealand deployments and their families. Around 200 eligible people had been identified.
A swathe of European countries have also started efforts to take in Afghans, including France, Poland and Germany.
The European Union, meanwhile, is desperately trying to find a solution for its Afghan staff and seeking to convince its 27 member states to offer them visas.
With AFP, Reuters.