Afghan security guards who used to work at the Australian embassy in Kabul have said they feel like Australia has turned their back on them, after being told they aren’t eligible for special visas specifically for former Afghan employees.
SBS News has reported that over 100 security staff who guarded the Australian embassy in Kabul have been sent letters rejecting their eligibility for the locally engaged employee visa. The special visa is specifically reserved for at-risk Afghan employees who worked alongside Australian agencies.
One of the guards, who says he worked at the embassy right up until its closure, said he’s in hiding fearing for his life because he worked with the Australian government.
“Everyday there is news that the Taliban will begin searching house by house … for those who served with the military and those who worked with foreign forces,” he told SBS News.
Despite his fears for his life, the Australian government rejected his and dozens of other security guards’ visa applications, without stating a clear reason as to why.
“Thank you for your application for certification under the Australian Government’s visa policy for at-risk employees,” the rejection letter reads.
“Unfortunately you are not eligible for certification under this visa policy.”
The letter doesn’t delve into why the security guards are not eligible for the locally engaged employee visa, but continues on to encourage them to apply for the humanitarian visa stream instead, which only has 3000 places.
“I already feel disappointed because I am like a prisoner at home – I can’t get out,” one of the guards said, before hoping that the government will overturn their decision.
“We serve with loyalty and honesty at the embassy and we do not deserve the Australian government to turn their backs on us.
“We served them, we protected them and put our lives in danger.”
Military lawyer Glenn Kolomeitz has slammed the government’s decision as “shameful”.
“We are trying to save lives whilst being actively obstructed by bureaucrats in Canberra,” he told SBS News.
“This entire shameful episode will be subject to judicial scrutiny in coming months and, hopefully, parliamentary scrutiny in coming years.”
He said that it wasn’t clear why some people were granted visas and others were rejected.
“Having read the acceptance and rejection letters there is no rhyme nor reason why some have been accepted but most have been rejected.
“Same job, same embassy, same risk to life – with somebody in Canberra now deciding who to throw to the wolves on an apparent whim.”
The comments come after a slew of other criticisms of the Australian government’s help, or lack thereof, of Afghan refugees.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced he will not resettle Afghans that flee the Taliban by boat, or rescue all the Afghan interpreters at risk for helping Australian forces. The Australian government will not be following other countries footsteps of increasing refugee capacity to help Afghans fleeing persecution, either.