Media Centre - 18 August 2021

Plan International Australia gravely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of children and girls in Afghanistan

Girls studying in a classroom in Afghanistan

Plan International Australia is deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, especially the welfare of children and girls. We call for the Taliban and all others to restrain from any violence or repression. The international community must prioritise helping the Afghan people.

While Plan international Australia welcomes the Australian government announcement today that an initial 3,000 humanitarian places will be allocated to Afghan nationals most vulnerable to the Taliban, we call on the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke to increase the humanitarian intake to 20,000 visas for those most at risk from the Taliban.

Additionally, Plan International Australia is calling on the Australian Government to urgently:

  • Grant permanent protection to all people from Afghanistan in Australia on temporary protection visas;
  • Make immediate arrangements to bring the families of refugees from Afghanistan to Australia.

“We call on the Government to allocate an additional 20,000 visas for those most at risk from the Taliban – just as they did for people fleeing Syria in 2015 and as Canada has done this week,” said Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena.

​​Plan International is not operational in Afghanistan, but as an organisation committed to supporting the advancement of the rights of children and equality for girls, we urge respect for human rights of all, particularly girls and women, and freedom for everyone to participate in the economic, social and political life of the country.

“What we are witnessing unfold in Afghanistan in real time is devastating and heart-breaking. Through decades of experience responding to conflicts and disasters, Plan International knows that girls and women are at far greater risk in these situations.

“This existential risk is amplified in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. During the regime’s brutal previous rule, girls were forbidden from classrooms and could only leave their homes with a male ‘guardian’. Girls as young as 12 were forced into marriages,” said Ms Legena.

“Children and youth, especially girls and young women who have already lived their entire lives through conflict have a right to grow up in a country free from violence, where they can go to school, stay safe from harm and engage in meaningful lives.

“It is especially critical that the hard-won progress we have seen in girls’ education in Afghanistan over the last 20 years is not rolled back. Girls and women must be protected from the threat of sexual violence and forced marriage.

Plan International Australia urges that all efforts be made by the global community to respect obligations under international humanitarian law which includes ensuring free and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need of assistance and protection, as well as open borders for the safe movement of people.

We call on the international community to act in solidarity with the girls and women in Afghanistan. This requires upholding all international obligations, including guaranteeing asylum to those in need of such protections, with priority to children, girls and youth or vulnerable women and promoters of human rights.

For further comment please contact Plan International Australia media and ambassador manager James Norman on 0451291775 or media and public relations advisor Claire Knox on 0452326549

Media contacts

Claire Knox

Media & PR Manager
0452 326 549

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