AIRAR helping Afghan refugees get to safety

September 28, 2021 BY

Fairhaven couple Laurie and Cecily Mason are long-time advocates for refugees.

AIREYS Inlet Rural Australians for Refugees (AIRAR) is fundraising to help Afghans arriving in Australia, and a Fairhaven couple have been hard at work lodging applications with the Immigration Department for Offshore Humanitarian Visas for those trying to escape the war-torn country.

The applicants are from the Hazara minority, persecuted under the previous Taliban regime, and all have worked in roles that again make them targets of the Taliban.

Stories have begun to reach Australia about atrocities happening in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.

Long-time refugee advocates Cecily and Laurie Mason have already completed four Humanitarian Visa applications for 15 Hazara family members.

“All the people we are working with have harrowing tales of persecution and are now anxiously awaiting their visa confirmation,” Cecily said.

“Our applicant families are in hiding, too fearful to leave as the Taliban are checking everyone, seizing the phones and goods of Hazaras, arresting and detaining them, and shooting many, even children.

“We are in daily contact with the families, trying to keep them positive and hoping that we can get visas to them and get them out of Afghanistan to a safe haven.”

Rural Australians for Refugees are co-ordinating the lodgement of the visa applications from refugee supporters across Australia, and so far 11 Afghans have made it to Australia as a result of this work.

The Masons were two of the foundation members of AIRAR when it re-ignited in mid-2014 after several years in hiatus.

AIRAR has mounted a fundraising campaign titled Aid for Afghans, with funds being used for emergency relief for those Afghans who have arrived in Australia; help for those still in Afghanistan; and assistance to those trying to get permanent protection here.

“The campaign had received terrific support from the community with $5,000 being raised already,” AIRAR co-ordinator Mary Bremner said.

For more information, email [email protected].

Anyone interested in donating can do so via electronic transfer to Aid for Afghans, BSB: 633 000 account no: 173 359 480.

Thank you for supporting local journalism!