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Our Afghani stories shared with MPs: Tony Piccolo

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Tony Piccolo MP in Naracoorte Community News

The local Afghan Community in the South East have told State Members of Parliament of their fear for the safety and wellbeing of family and friends living in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of allied forces and the installation of a new Taliban Government.

From left: The Hon Clare Scriven MLC, Tony Piccolo MP, Sheikh Ghulam Ali Haideri, local resident Rahmat Mohebi, and Mehdi Ali, President of the Limestone Coast Multicultural Network. Photo: Tony Piccolo

The community shared their stories with a delegation led by religious leader Sheikh Ghulam Ali Haideri and State Member of Parliament, Mr Tony Piccolo who visited Naracoorte to offer support to people who are dealing with the confronting and difficult fallout from the events in Afghanistan.

Naracoorte is home to a more than 300 strong community of Afghan people many of whom attended a public gathering along with members of the Afghan community from Bordertown on Saturday where religious leader Sheikh Ghulam Ali Haideri offered guidance, comfort, support and prayers for families and loved ones trapped in uncertain situations back home.

Mr Piccolo has developed strong and enduring connections with the Afghan Community through his work with them in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.

Mr Piccolo said it was with heavy hearts we have all watched the terrible scenes unfold in Afghanistan. I thought it would be a sign of goodwill to ask Sheikh Ghulam Ali Haideri and other community leaders to offer support to Afghan people who weren’t able to attend public vigils and prayers organised in Adelaide.

Port MacDonnell based Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Mrs Clare Scriven MLC, who co-hosted the delegation said Saturday night was an important gathering to hear from members of our local Afghan community to better understand the situation in Afghanistan and the persecution being experienced by many of their relatives and friends.

“There are more than 4,200 people in Australia who have been deemed to be genuine refugees.  Many have been here for seven, eight or nine years, but have no path to permanent residency or Australian citizenship, which means they have a permanent fear of being sent back to Afghanistan,” Mrs Scriven said.

“This is a terrible threat hanging over them, and the recent events in Kabul with people trying to escape the Taliban, has increased the urgency for these genuine refugees to be given some certainty and security.”

Mr Piccolo said the events in Afghanistan call for compassion and thoughtful leadership as the uncertainty of their status in Australia is causing many Afghani refugees a great deal of trauma and anxiety.

“Afghani refugees have settled well in Australia making valuable contributions to regional South Australia with many opening their own small businesses,’ said Mr Piccolo.

“Their children go to school, are involved in local sports, and are starting to integrate with the wider community.”

“By and large they have been welcomed and accepted by the general community and it is time for the Federal Government to do more for people on temporary protection visas, citizenship and family reunions,”

“Local community leaders like Mayor Erika Vickery and local Member of Parliament, Mr Nick McBride understand this, so it is sad to see the Prime Minister drag the chain on this important issue.”

“Now is a time to walk together with the Afghani community for the benefit of the whole Australia community.”

The visit provided an opportunity to remind people that the Afghan-Australian community urges the Australian Government to immediately work with all parties and international allies, leveraging the access still possible on the ground through third-party states to:

  • Grant immediate permanent protection to Afghans in Australia on temporary visas, particularly to Hazara Afghans
  • Increase the humanitarian intake from Afghanistan particularly Afghan citizens who worked as contractors for Australian Defence Force and other Australian agencies
  • Prioritise family reunion visas for Australians who have family stranded in Afghanistan particularly Hazara-Afghans

The delegation also included Mr Syed Mehdi Kazmi, President of the Adelaide based Hazara community organisation, Jafaria Islamic Society and Cr Akram Arifi from the City of Playford.

Naracoorte Community News 22 September 2021

This article appeared in Naracoorte Community News, 22 September 2021.


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