ACFID – the Australian Council for International Development – has welcomed a Senate Committee report calling on the Government to act urgently on the crisis in Afghanistan, including continuing to increase the levels of funding and improving the visa process for refugees.
The Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee handed down its report into Australia’s engagement in Afghanistan on Tuesday afternoon.
The report recommended that the Australian Government work out how it plans to deliver humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people over the long term without explicitly recognising the Taliban as a legitimate ruling government.
ACFID CEO Marc Purcell said:
“We welcome the report and its recommendations, which recognise the scale of urgent humanitarian need in Afghanistan, and also sets out exactly what Australia can do to help the Afghan people.
“Afghanistan is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. We want Australia to be a key player in contributing to efforts to alleviate the impact on its people. We call on the government to meet the sector’s ask of $100 million per year for ongoing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and to accelerate resettlement.”
The report identifies key actions that Australia should take, including providing ongoing funding, working with NGOs and humanitarian agencies to deliver this funding, improving visa application processes and working on resettlement plans.
The Committee report also singled out the growing liquidity crisis in Afghanistan for attention. Money is not flowing freely in and out of Afghanistan, meaning Afghans are struggling to get cash which limits their abilities to access goods and services.
ACFID is urging the Government to now speed up the dispersement and delivery of aid, and ensure that it gets to where it is most needed. It also wants the Government to fund international and local humanitarian agencies and NGOs and, most importantly, local civil society organisations.
Save the Children acting Managing Director of International Programs Francis Woods said:
“Australia cannot wait for the situation to stabilise in Afghanistan before supporting local and international agencies providing life-saving aid to millions of people facing starvation.
“Without direct, ongoing support to NGOs operating in Afghanistan, the ability of organisations to continue providing this critical aid will be diminished, risking many more lives. Now more than ever, Afghan children need Australia’s help.”
Purcell added: “We want the Government to wholeheartedly accept and implement each of the Committee’s recommendations with urgency.”