According to SBS News, the Australian government has stopped processing resettlement applications from thousands of people still stuck inside Afghanistan.
The Australian Home Affairs Department, SBS News reports, has announced that it will refuse applications for anyone it does not consider a “priority” due to its inability to carry out background checks in the country since the Taliban regained control in August 2021.
The decision, SBS says, leaves thousands of people who have been waiting to hear about the applications, as the Taliban has severely restricted their exit attempts.
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The Australian Home Affairs Department says on its website: “To ensure that resettlement is provided in a timely manner to those most in need, and to reduce uncertainty for those awaiting the outcome of their application, applications that do not fall within the [humanitarian] program’s priorities for the Afghan caseload, including from applicants who remain in Afghanistan, will be refused.”
A military lawyer who helped evacuate people from Afghanistan told SBS News: “Your applications will not even be processed, will not even be looked at, because Australia can’t do the biometric testing in Afghanistan. We questioned that, and the response was: That’s it.”
And another lawyer accused Australia’s Labor government of “wiping its hands … of the Afghan problem.”
The Australian government has said that it has already resettled 31,500 people from Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover of the country but has not given any details on how many applications it is processing at the moment.