ACFID – the Australian Council for International Development – has welcomed a Senate committee report calling on the government to act urgently in the face of the crisis in Afghanistan, including by continuing to increase funding levels and improving the process of visa for refugees.
The Senate Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Committee released its report on Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan on Tuesday afternoon.
The report recommended that the Australian government consider how it plans to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people over the long term without explicitly recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate government in power.
ACFID CEO, Marc Purcell, said:
“We welcome the report and its recommendations, which recognize the scale of the urgent humanitarian needs in Afghanistan, and also set out exactly what Australia can do to help the Afghan people.
“Afghanistan is the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world. We want Australia to be a key player in contributing to efforts to mitigate the impact on its people. We call on the government to respond to the sector’s request for $100 million a year for continued humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and to expedite resettlement.
The report identifies key actions Australia should take, including providing continued funding, working with NGOs and humanitarian agencies to provide this funding, improving visa application processes and working on resettlement plans.
The Committee’s report also drew attention to the growing cash crisis in Afghanistan. Money does not flow freely in and out of Afghanistan, which means Afghans find it difficult to obtain cash, which limits their ability to access goods and services.
ACFID urges the government to speed up the dispersal and delivery of aid now, and ensure that it gets to where it is most needed. He also wants the government to fund international and local humanitarian agencies and NGOs and, above all, local civil society organizations.
Acting Director General of International Programs at Save the Children, Francis Woods, said:
“Australia cannot wait for the situation to stabilize in Afghanistan before supporting local and international agencies providing lifesaving aid to millions of people facing starvation.
“Without direct and continued support to NGOs operating in Afghanistan, the ability of organizations to continue providing this essential assistance will be reduced, risking many more lives. Now more than ever, Afghan children need Australia’s help.
Purcell added: “We want the government to wholeheartedly accept and urgently implement each of the Committee’s recommendations.”