NauMai September 2021
Catholic Social Services, working with parish communities, is ready to support any initiative of the New Zealand Government to bring extra people fleeing the crisis in Afghanistan.
Karen Holland, Kaiarahi of Wellington Catholic Social Services (CSS), said that for the last five years CSS social workers have worked with Afghani families settled in New Zealand.
‘They have shared their deep concerns for the safety of their whānau who are still in Afghanistan. For many people in New Zealand Afghanistan may seem worlds away, but to us at CSS, they are our whānau too. Catholic Social Services hears the call – we must not fail to respond.
‘The current crisis in Afghanistan further highlights the humanitarian crisis around the world of people being forced to leave their homelands. We see the situation worsening day by day and believe the need to act is incumbent on all of us.’
Since 2016, CSS together with Red Cross, the Anglican Movement and parish communities have provided household goods and pantry packs for nearly 1,000 former refugees arriving in Wellington.
Refugee advocate Lorna Johnson, who is based in Palmerston North, is concerned that with the current Delta outbreak and lockdown situation New Zealanders might easily forget the plight of Afghani refugees. A trustee of the Manawatu Reuniting Refugee Trust, Lorna Johnson has been receiving desperate emails from Afghan Kiwis pleading for any help for their loved ones trapped under Taliban rule.
Across the Tasman, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, has urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to increase the country’s intake of Afghani refugees.
Archbishop Coleridge said the Australian Government should provide at least 20,000 humanitarian places for Afghans in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
“Archbishop Coleridge said the Australian Government should provide at least 20,000 humanitarian places for Afghans.”
In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Archbishop Coleridge noted there has been ‘an outpouring of concern for the people of Afghanistan’ as that country’s government has collapsed and the Taliban seized control.
He said the 3000 places offered above and beyond 8000 places over the past decade ‘is a substantial commitment, but more is needed’.
Based on estimates from key humanitarian organisations and pledges from other countries, Archbishop Coleridge proposed that at least another 17,000 places be made available, adding that Catholic agencies ‘stand ready to assist your government with resettlement of refugees’.
On September 26, the Catholic Church celebrates the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Pope Francis has chosen Towards an ever wider ‘we’, as the theme for his 2021 message. In his message he comments that the ‘we’ willed by God is ‘broken and fragmented, wounded and disfigured’ as is evident in moments of great crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
To remedy this, the Pope stresses that ‘we are all in the same boat and called to work together so there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer “others”, but only a single “we”, encompassing all of humanity’.
By the end of August more than 20,000 people in New Zealand had signed a petition to present to the government to bring more Afghan refugees to New Zealand.