Despite being considered at-risk, more than 1,200 refugees granted protection by the Morrison Government have been denied exemptions to travel to Australia since August last year. Source: SBS News.
When Islamic State swept into the heavily Christian Iraqi city of Qaraqosh – also known as Bakhdida – in 2014, Mukhles Habash and his family fled for their lives. They came to Australia as refugees in 2016 and settled in the regional Victorian centre of Geelong.
Mr Habash now has a different fight on his hands – to bring more family and hundreds of fellow Iraqi Christians granted humanitarian visas by the government to the country that has granted him a new life.
Mr Habash’s brother-in-law and his family are part of a growing group of humanitarian visa holders – which the Refugee Council of Australia’s estimates now totals more than 7,000 people – stuck overseas.
Department of Home Affairs data shows more than a thousand travel exemption requests by refugees stuck overseas have been rejected since August last year.
Australia’s international border closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic means that Australian citizens, permanent residents, and some immediate family remain the only people allowed to enter the country without special exemptions.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ multi-country office in Canberra has called on the government to consider a blanket travel exemption for humanitarian visa holders.
Thousands of vulnerable refugees granted protection in Australia remain stuck overseas (By Henry Zwartz, SBS News)