Australia plans to send repatriation flights to Afghanistan to evacuate Afghan nationals who worked closely with Australian forces during the decades-long conflict.
- Scott Morrison says he thinks Australians would support repatriation flights
- 252 Afghan nationals and their families were airlifted to Australia
- Prime Minister said Australian officials will return to Afghanistan when it is safe to do so
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also confirmed that the government is seeking to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Kabul, as revealed by the ABC, less than a month after abandoning its embassy.
Since the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was made, local translators have signaled that they have become the target of further death threats from the Taliban for helping Australia, rekindling calls for the government to step up. protection visas for hundreds of employees.
About 300 Afghan nationals and their families have so far been granted safe refuge, and 252 of them have been airlifted to Australia.
Mr Morrison said the government was assessing the applications with “great urgency” and “making steady progress”, but acknowledged that it was a complex multi-agency process.
“I look forward to having more to say on this in the coming weeks, but we are making steady progress,” he said.
Repatriation flights would help speed up the process, as trade options are now limited by the National Cabinet’s decision to halve the ceiling on international arrivals.
Presence in Kabul envisaged
Australia closed its embassy in Kabul and on June 18 quietly withdrew all remaining diplomats, military and intelligence officers.
Less than a month later, Mr Morrison confirmed that Australia was considering re-establishing a presence in Afghanistan, revealing that he had discussed the issue with other world leaders at the recent G7 summit.
“If we were able to have Australians safe in Afghanistan and support our efforts there, we would,” he said.
“This is an issue I have discussed with other leaders, especially when I was in the G7.”
A spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia’s diplomatic arrangements in Afghanistan “should always be temporary, with the intention of resuming a permanent presence as soon as circumstances permit”.
“This remains our position. We continue to engage closely with our partners, including the Afghan government and coalition member countries.
“We will not comment on intelligence matters.”