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Australia could take 20,000 Afghan refugees, church leaders say

27 August 2021

Alamy

Afghan nationals wait outside the Australian embassy, at Shantipath, in New Delhi, India, earlier this month. Australia has said that it will offer visas to 3000 refugees from Afghanistan

Afghan nationals wait outside the Australian embassy, at Shantipath, in New Delhi, India, earlier this month. Australia has said that it will offer vi...

CHRISTIAN leaders across Australia, including the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Revd Kanishka Raffel, have urged the Australian government to take in 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan.

Archbishop Raffel said that Australia should respond as generously as it did after the Tiananmen Square massacre and during the Syrian civil war. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has so far agreed to accept 3000 Afghan refugees, within the current immigration cap.

“Opening up your heart and your home and responding to the transparent needs of people — it is Christian, but it is a feature of human compassion,” Archbishop Raffel said. “We went to Afghanistan to secure the freedom of Afghan people, and now we need to bring as many as we can, as generously as we can, so that they can share our freedom.”

The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, echoed the call for 20,000 refugees, saying that the 3000 places promised, while “a substantial commitment”, was not enough.

Tim Costello, a Baptist minister and a former chief executive officer of World Vision Australia, has written to the Prime Minister urging him to “look to his faith” (Mr Morrison worships in a Pentecostal church). “Australia has the capacity to do this, and we should do this,” he said of the 20,000 suggestion.

Mr Costello told ABC Radio that there was a groundswell of support right across the Christian churches, the “often very disunited Christian churches”, for a generous response to the Afghanistan refugee crisis.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, has received the same message from 50 church leaders, including nine Anglicans, from the 40 churches in his constituency.

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