The events that unfolded in Afghanistan over the past few days as the Taliban took control of the country have left us deeply disturbed and saddened.
We have watched and been troubled as to what this will mean for the safety and dignity of Afghanistan’s women and children. We’ve been concerned about people of ethnic and religious minority groups, people who’ve exercised their freedom of speech, those who have worked with and supported Australian and other international efforts in the country, and all their friends and relatives.
Some of us know members of Australia’s Afghan community personally and we feel deeply their distress as they hear directly from family members and friends about the terrible violence within the country.
We stand in solidarity with our Afghan sisters and brothers and, in the words of the psalmist cry out: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).
We anticipate and even hope to reach the psalmist’s conclusion “But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5-6).
But we’re not there yet and if we’re honest, we’re not even sure what the path between verse 1 and verse six looks like. So we look for the next steps we can take.
We want Australia to act
Supporting efforts to protect people in danger of persecution, and to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, is the most important role that Australia can play today.
Baptist World Aid has signed on to a joint letter that outlines some of the immediate and practical steps that can be taken, and you can join the call below.
Here’s what Christians can do to help
We often feel most helpless when our help is most needed. But here is what all Australian Christians and churches can do now, when every hour matters.
- Pray: Join Baptist World Aid and Pray for Peace in Afghanistan, at 5pm (AEST) on Thursday, 19 August.
- Email your MP: we’ve created a tool to do that quickly.
- Advocate personally: Pick up the phone (best option) or draft a short personal email to your local MP (find the contact details for your local MP on the Parliament of Australia website) and tell them that you’d like them to use their voice to advocate that Australia:
- Offer 20,000 additional refugee resettlement places for Afghan refugees immediately. Tony Abbott did it in 2015 with additional places for Syrian and Iraqi refugees, Malcolm Fraser did it in the 1970s to welcome Vietnamese refugees. We can do it again today to share the responsibility to protect Afghan lives at risk.
- Immediately increase Australian aid to the region to support programs to assist people who have been displaced across borders and, wherever possible, support organisations still on the ground in Afghanistan.
- Extend permanent protection to Afghans on temporary protection visas, recognising that return to Afghanistan will not be safe for many years to come.
- Involve your whole church: highlight the situation in Afghanistan and share ways for your church community to advocate for people in Afghanistan for whom home is no longer safe.
The best moment to act is now while the media is paying most attention to the situation in Afghanistan and the government is considering its response.