THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
JUNE 01, 2014 12:00AM
MORE than 500 Afghan nationals at “significant” risk of being killed after helping the Defence Force during its mission in Afghanistan are being resettled in Australia. Source: Supplied
MORE than 500 Afghan nationals at “significant” risk of being killed after helping the Defence Force during its mission in Afghanistan are being resettled in Australia.
An undisclosed number are yet to arrive with their families once they have passed the strict security and health checks needed to obtain a permanent Australian visa.
The visas were granted to local employees of Defence and the Australian Government who faced retribution from insurgents and Taliban-sympathisers due to the highly visible and dangerous nature of their employment.
Many had roles in providing the army with technical assistance, interpreting and breaking down cultural barriers.
The government was recently forced to expedite the scheme after an interpreter waiting to come to Australia was killed in a suspected Taliban revenge attack last year.
The scheme allows for visa-holders to resettle in Australia with their families.
A similar scheme operating after the Iraq War saw 563 Iraqis who had assisted Defence resettle in Australia.
Of those who have already arrived in Australia, 280 have been resettled in NSW. Each have been provided with accommodation, household assistance and access to government, community and health services.
It is understood many have jobs and those with children have enrolled them in schools.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, who pledged locally engaged employees would “not be left behind” with the withdrawal of Australian troops, would not disclose how many were yet to be processed, but said consideration of applications was “ongoing”.
“There are a handful of cases we are still dealing with, but we are working as quickly, as safely and as effectively as we can. It’s been a great partnership to ensure that those who deserve and earned our trust and support are given the chance to start a new life here with their families,” he said.
“I know our service men and women have been very anxious to see this program was undertaken.”
Mr Morrison said it had taken time to assess members of what were sometimes “complicated family structures” where primary care-givers were not always the parents.
He said the policy reflected Australia’s fulfilment of its moral obligation to those who provided invaluable support.
Source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/more-than-500-afghan-nationals-at-significant-risk-of-being-killed-will-be-resettled-in-australia/story-fni0cx4q-1226938282745document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);
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