Shepparton News

Afghan refugee allocation defended

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CANBERRA: Australia has urged the Taliban not to break its commitment to allow safe passage for people wanting to leave Afghanista­n.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rebuffed calls for a special one-off humanitari­an intake outside the 3000 places allocated within Australia’s regular annual program.

Mr Morrison said he didn’t take any window for people to escape for granted after the United States, Australia and other allies left Afghanista­n following an evacuation mission.

‘‘When it comes to the guarantees, I am cautious about how substantia­l they will be, and for how long they will be in place,’’ he said.

‘‘Afghanista­n is a place where the situation is deteriorat­ing.’’

In 2015, the Federal Government announced a special one-off intake of 12,000 people from Syria.

The prime minister said 3000 people were taken in the first year of that program.

‘‘We are very keen to meet at least the 3000 that we would like to see taken into Australia, and our humanitari­an program this year and more,’’ Mr Morrison said.

‘‘We would like to see more.’’ Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Afghans granted protection visas who were not evacuated in recent weeks would receive advice from officials about safely leaving the country.

‘‘It is an expectatio­n, in terms of the ability for safe travel and safe transit, that we are very focused on,’’ she said.

‘‘We know that for those who remain in Afghanista­n, it’ sa question of very significan­t concern.’’

A humanitari­an disaster is unfolding in the war-torn nation with many trying to flee the regime left behind, despite 122,000 people being evacuated including more than 4000 in Australia’s mission.

Mr Morrison said Australia evacuated four times the amount of people initially expected.

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