The Catholic Weekly 5 September 2021

$2 With the fear of persecution and other atrocities ever-present ... these people deserve the opportunity to permanently rebuild their lives here.” Julie Edwards, Jesuit Social Services ARCHBISHOP ANTHONY Fisher OP has urged Catholics to get behind a special appeal for Afghan refugees. The Archbishop’s Afghan Refugee Appeal will raise des- perately needed funds and commit Archdiocesan agen- cies and partners to providing pastoral, educational, health and welfare assistance to Af- ghan families and individuals fleeing their homeland. Archbishop Fisher has also personally contacted Austral- ia’s Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, asking that the government be generous in its intake of Afghan refugees. Thousands have fled Kabul and Afghanistan since the fol- lowing the Taliban takeover of Kabul, completing its control of the country. Last Tuesday PrimeMinister Scott Morrison rejected calls to substantially increase the Fed- eral Government’s allocation of 3000 places this year to Af- ghans fleeing the crisis, but in- dicated that it would increase its humanitarian program to accommodate additional per- sons if needed. That call came fromreligious leaders, including a number of Australia’s Catholic bishops, as well as charities, aid agencies and community networks, who said the country is well-placed to take 20,000 Afghan refugees and should do so. As a precedent Australia accepted a one-off increase of refugees in 2015, taking 12,000 people who fled con- flict in Syria and Iraq. Mr Morrison told media that Australia had already evacuated four times the number of people from Kabul in its rescue mission than was initially expected and that he thought this year “I actually think it will be more” than the allocated 3000. He said Australian defence forces had evacuated “some 4100 people” including more than 3200 Australians and Af- ghan nationals with Austral- ian visas just before attacks near Kabul airport killedmore than 100 people on 27 August. Meanwhile, local refu- gee advocates are also con- cerned for the more than 5,100 Afghans already living in uncertainty in Australia. Many of them have been as- sessed as refugees but cannot return to their homeland. “These people have made significant commitments to Australia for years, through working, studying and volun- teering in our communities,” said Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards. “With the fear of perse- cution and other atrocities ever-present in Afghanistan, these people deserve the op- portunity to permanently re- build their lives here. “The guarantee of perma- nent visas for Afghans already in the country under tempo- rary protection or those who are having their status cur- rently processed is the right thing to do.” Jesuit Refugee Service Aus- tralia also urged the Federal Government to grant current refugees permanent protec- tion and swift access to family reunification, and supported calls to provide at least 20,000 new humanitarian places for people fleeing Afghanistan. Reza, a refugee from Af- ghanistan living in Sydney, told The Catholic Weekly that Afghan refugees on temporary visas have already suffered “long and painful” separation from loved ones they are now desperately anxious about. “Without the ability to re- unite with family, many have been apart for over eight years, and have struggled to deal with the uncertainty and pain of what is unfolding for their relatives in Afghanistan,” he said. “As mothers, fathers, and siblings, all we want to do is provide care, emotional sup- port, and protection to their loved ones. “Now is the time for the Australian Government to provide certainty and per- manence to Afghan refugees on temporary visas so that we can be reunited with their family members and live to- gether in peace.” Numerous governments and aid agencies around the world have expressed deep concern at the consequences for the thousands of Afghans who worked alongside and for US-led allied forces through- out over the last two decades. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Dig deep for Afghans Archbishop Anthony OP launches special appeal for refugees, pledges Church’s support for them ¾ Staff Writers 5, September, 2021 HOW JUSTICE CRUMBLED IN THE PELL CASE EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL LIFTOUT INSIDE THE ARCHDIOCESE of Syd- ney’s Catholicmigrant outreach is stretched to its limits during thecurrentCOVID-19outbreak, with dozens of stricken families in the city’s western suburbs in need of urgent support. Kylie Cullen from the Catho- lic Immigration Office says that dozens of newmigrant families and individuals are under ex- treme stress and is calling for donations of essential food and other grocery items, cleaning products, and technology de- vices. As west and south-west Sydney formed 80 percent of reported COVID infections that soared above 1000 per day she is assisting Anna Dimo, the pastoral care coordinator at St Bakhita Centre in Homebush West, who has been work- ing day and night to counsel people over the phone and to help deliver emergency aid to people living in suburbs such as Blacktown, Mt Druitt and St Mary’s. CONTINUED ON PAGE 7 ¾ Marilyn Rodrigues Appeal seeks help for our newAussies Anna Dimo, pastoral support worker at the St Bakhita Centre in Homebush. PHOTO: GIOVANNI PORTELLI