By Juliano Oliveira
The State Government has promised $400,000 for the assistance and services to the Afghan community through Queensland’s Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS).
In the first two weeks following the fall of Kabul, RAILS received 650 requests for assistance from members of Queensland’s Afghan community.
Warwick-based Southern Down Refugee and Migrant Network (SDRAMN) celebrated the decision taken by the state.
“It was encouraging to hear the announcement from the Queensland Government of $400,000 to support the work of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service,” spokesperson Doug Wilson said.
“RAILS is a non-profit legal service, and this funding will help support the increasing demand for their services due to the situation in Afghanistan.”
SDRAMN seeks to sponsor a humanitarian visa to a married Afghan couple, their one-year-old son and the husband’s brother.
Last week, Mr Wilson revealed receipt of a letter from one of the Rural Australians for Refugees(RAR) sponsors. The message starts with, “Kabul is like a dead city. I live in fear. At any moment, something bad could happen to me. People’s mental health is completely destroyed due to frustration, depression and, most importantly, feeling insecure. I have started grinding my teeth out of fear and anxiety in the past month.”
The funding disclosure towards RAILS reflects the wishes of around 8,000 people born in Afghanistan or with Afghani heritage living in Queensland.
RAILS Acting Executive Director Kylie McGrath to discuss the tremendous work that her organisation undertakes and the complex challenges facing the local Afghan community.
“The issues are vast – there are relatives in Afghanistan requiring visa assistance or outcomes; there are family members at grave risk of harm; we have evacuees in quarantine needing support now and in the future, and there is a big demand for interpreter services,” she said.
Afghanistan lives under the strict religious rules of the Taliban – a fundamentalist group that took over power again in August 2021 after the withdrawal of the US-led military coalition in the capital Kabul.