More than 100,000 Afghans are estimated to have applied for a humanitarian visa to come to Australia since the fall of Kabul, officials have revealed to a Senate hearing. Source: SBS News.
The figure demonstrates the overwhelming demand from Afghans seeking protection still left behind following the Australian Government’s evacuation mission in August.
Speaking before the Senate committee into Australia's involvement in Afghanistan, Department of Home Affairs official David Wilden described the inundation of visa requests witnessed in recent weeks.
Mr Wildon told the committee Australia had received 26,000 applications, which he said was “well in excess of 100,000 people”. The reason for the discrepancy is most of these visa applications have multiple people attached to them.
The committee also heard some people had been unwilling to depart Kabul because they were still trying to get visas for family members who they wanted to bring with them.
Director and Principal Solicitor of the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, Sarah Dale, said the demand demonstrated the desperate need for help from those seeking protection in Afghanistan.
The Morrison Government has promised to provide an initial 3000 humanitarian spots to Afghan nationals fleeing the country, describing this figure as a “floor” and not a “ceiling”.
But the total still sits within Australia’s humanitarian annual program limit of around 13,750 places, raising concerns over whether the allocation will go far enough towards meeting the surging demand.
The Senate hearing also confirmed that at least 286 Australian citizens and permanent residents who had sought assistance from the Australian government remain stranded in Afghanistan.
More than 100,000 Afghans apply for Australian humanitarian visas (By Tom Stayner, SBS News)