Australia has continuing responsibility to Afghans, Mandarin Talks

By Tom Ravlic

Thursday September 16, 2021

Clockwise: Ian McPhedran, Amin Saikal, Chris Johnson, Virginia Haussegger.
Clockwise: Ian McPhedran, Amin Saikal, Chris Johnson, Virginia Haussegger.

Australia and other nations that spent time in Afghanistan fighting the war on terror have a moral obligation to accept a greater number of refugees who will inevitably seek a new home following the return to power of the Taliban, according to the participants in The Mandarin’s exclusive webinar Mandarin Talks held yesterday. 

The United States and its allies recently ended 20 years of involvement in Afghanistan and the panel featuring author and defence writer Ian McPhedran, journalist and commentator Virginia Haussegger, and Amin Saikal, adjunct professor at the University of Western Australia, agreed there was a lot of unfinished business for Western countries to consider.

Australian forces and embassy personnel were assisted in doing their work by security guards and interpreters with a large number of those individuals still in hiding in Afghanistan and fearing for their lives.

McPhedran said that while people who helped Australians remained in Afghanistan the country has not done enough for them but that issue does not address the need to accept people seeking refuge from the Taliban regime.

“You can’t go to someone’s country and make war on them and then walk away and not expect to have some responsibility to the refugees,” McPhedran observed.

“We’re going to have a big refugee issue coming out of Afghanistan. A lot of people are going to be trying to get here whether they come in on boats or planes or whatever. They’re going to be trying to get here.

“We should increase the humanitarian intake to account for the Afghan people who have a legitimate right to seek a safe haven in our country.”

Haussegger said Australia needs to do more to help Afghans who want to leave the country.

“We do need to do more. We are obliged to and as human beings we are obliged to,” she said.

Saikal said one of the issues to monitor is the ‘brain drain’ from Afghanistan as people seek to leave a country that has seen knowledgeable people leave every time a government or administration has changed over the decades.

“This is what has been happening every time there has been a major change in Afghanistan,” Saikal said.

The talks, hosted by The Mandarin’s managing editor Chris Johnson, covered a range of issues centring on the outcomes of the 20 years spent in Afghanistan by Western powers, including the dire prospects for women in Afghanistan.


READ MORE:

Afghanistan’s war isn’t over, expert says

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