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

The community shared theirstories with a delegation led by religious leader Sheikh Ghulam Ali Haideri andState Member of Parliament, Mr Tony Piccolo who visited Naracoorte to offersupport to people who are dealing with the confronting and difficult falloutfrom the events in Afghanistan.

Naracoorte is home to a more than300 strong community of Afghan people many of whom attended a public gatheringalong with members of the Afghan community from Bordertown on Saturday wherereligious leader Sheikh Ghulam Ali Haideri offered guidance, comfort, supportand prayers for families and loved ones trapped in uncertain situations backhome.

Mr Piccolo has developed strongand enduring connections with the Afghan Community through his work with themin the northern suburbs of Adelaide.

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

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

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

“This is a terrible threathanging over them, and the recent events in Kabul with people trying to escapethe Taliban, has increased the urgency for these genuine refugees to be givensome certainty and security.”

Mr Piccolo said the events inAfghanistan call for compassion and thoughtful leadership as the uncertainty oftheir status in Australia is causing many Afghani refugees a great deal oftrauma and anxiety.

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

“Their children go to school, areinvolved in local sports, and are starting to integrate with the widercommunity.”

“By and large they have beenwelcomed and accepted by the general community and it is time for the FederalGovernment to do more for people on temporary protection visas, citizenship andfamily reunions,”

“Local community leaders likeMayor Erika Vickery and local Member of Parliament, Mr Nick McBride understandthis, so it is sad to see the Prime Minister drag the chain on this importantissue.”

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

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

·        Grant immediate permanentprotection to Afghans in Australia on temporary visas, particularly to HazaraAfghans

·        Increase the humanitarian intake fromAfghanistan particularly Afghan citizens who worked as contractors forAustralian Defence Force and other Australian agencies

·        Prioritise family reunion visas forAustralians who have family stranded in Afghanistan particularly Hazara-Afghans

The delegation also included MrSyed Mehdi Kazmi, President of the Adelaide based Hazara communityorganisation, Jafaria Islamic Society and Cr Akram Arifi from the City ofPlayford.