top of page

The Future of Hazara Asylum Seekers in Australia: Policy Reforms, Community Initiatives, and International Collaborations

By Raheel Bostan


Exploring the plight of the Hazara people seeking asylum in Australia and the reform required to support their resettlement.





The Historical Context

 

The Hazara people, an ethnic minority in Afghanistan, have a long history of facing persecution and discrimination. Originating from the central highlands of Afghanistan, the Hazara community has been marginalised for centuries, facing discrimination based on their ethnicity, religion, and cultural practices. Historically, Hazaras have been subjected to violence, oppression, and systemic discrimination, particularly under the current and previous Taliban rule [8].

 

During the Taliban regime in the late 20th century, Hazaras endured widespread atrocities, including massacres, forced displacement, and targeted killings [9]. The Taliban's extremist ideology, views Hazaras, who are predominantly Shia Muslims, as heretics and infidels, leading to systematic violence and oppression against the community [10]. The Mazar-i-Sharif Hazara genocide in1998 stands as a stark reminder of the brutal persecution faced by this marginalised group, with thousands of Hazara men, women, and children brutally massacred in acts of ethnic cleansing [11].

 

In the aftermath of the Taliban's rule, Hazara communities continue to face ongoing threats from extremist groups and sectarian violence in Afghanistan. Discrimination in access to education, employment, and political representation persists, exacerbating the socio-economic marginalisation of the Hazara population.

 

Fleeing persecution and violence in their homeland, many Hazara individuals and families have sought refuge in countries like Australia, hoping to build a better future for themselves and their children. However, their journey towards resettlement and integration is fraught with challenges, including complex immigration processes, overcoming language barriers, and addressing the trauma of displacement and persecution [12].

 

In light of these challenges, this article examines the crucial role of policy reforms, community initiatives, and international collaborations in improving the prospects and well-being of Hazara asylum seekers in Australia. By addressing the historical context of persecution and discrimination faced by the Hazara people and acknowledging the complexities of their resettlement journey, this article seeks to shed light on the importance of comprehensive support mechanisms for vulnerable refugee communities.

 

The Role of Policy Reforms in Supporting Hazara Refugees

 

Policy reforms serve as fundamental pillars in shaping the experiences and opportunities available to Hazara asylum seekers in Australia. The Australian government has attempted to demonstrate a commitment to upholding humanitarian principles through various policy initiatives aimed at improving the resettlement process for refugees, including the Hazara community [13].

 

One significant policy reform is the introduction of community sponsorship programs, such as the Community Support Program (CSP). This initiative empowers local communities to directly engage in the resettlement process by sponsoring and supporting refugees, including Hazara individuals. Through the CSP, community groups can provide practical assistance, accommodation, and social support to newly arrived refugees, facilitating their integration into Australian society. By actively involving local communities in the resettlement process, the CSP fosters a sense of belonging and solidarity, enhancing the overall well-being of Hazara asylum seekers [14].

 

In addition to community sponsorship programs, reforms in immigration policies are crucial for ensuring the long-term stability and security of Hazara refugees in Australia. The removal of temporary protection visas and the expansion of permanent resettlement pathways offer Hazara individuals a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship, providing them with a sense of permanence and belonging in their new homeland [15]. These policy changes not only address the immediate needs of Hazara asylum seekers but also contribute to their socio-economic integration and participation in Australian society.

 

Furthermore, the recent establishment of the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) underscores Australia's commitment to assisting vulnerable populations, including Hazara refugees, affected by conflicts and humanitarian crises. In response to the evolving situation in Afghanistan, the SHP provides a dedicated pathway for Afghan nationals, including Hazaras, to seek protection and resettlement in Australia. This initiative reflects Australia's humanitarian values and commitment to providing refuge and support to those in need, particularly in times of crisis [16].

 

By implementing these policy reforms, Australia reaffirms its commitment to humanitarian principles and demonstrates its willingness to support and protect vulnerable refugee communities, such as the Hazara people. These initiatives not only improve the resettlement experiences of Hazara asylum seekers but also contribute to the enrichment and diversity of Australian society as a whole.

 

Empowering Refugees Through Community Initiatives

 

Community initiatives serve as avenues for supporting the integration and well-being of Hazara asylum seekers in Australia. Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) play a crucial role in providing essential support services tailored to the specific needs of Hazara refugees. Through initiatives such as language classes, employment assistance programs, and cultural orientation sessions, organisations like Refugee Council of Australia enable Hazara individuals to overcome language barriers, access employment opportunities, and preserve their cultural identity while adapting to life in Australia [17].

 

Furthermore, grassroots initiatives spearheaded by local community members contribute significantly to the social inclusion and resilience of Hazara asylum seekers. Community-led mentorship programs, for instance, pair newly arrived Hazara refugees with established community members who offer guidance, support, and practical assistance in navigating the challenges of resettlement. These mentorship relationships not only facilitate the exchange of knowledge and skills but also foster meaningful connections and a sense of belonging within the Hazara community [18].

 

Moreover, social support networks established within Hazara communities provide invaluable emotional and practical support to individuals and families undergoing the resettlement process. These networks, such as the ‘Australian Hazara Community’ on Facebook, offer a platform for sharing experiences, seeking advice, and accessing resources, thereby mitigating feelings of isolation and alienation commonly experienced by refugees [19]. By fostering a sense of solidarity and mutual assistance, social support networks contribute to the overall well-being and integration of Hazara asylum seekers in Australian society.

 

In essence, community initiatives, whether initiated by NGOs or grassroots organisations, play a vital role in empowering Hazara asylum seekers to direct the complexities of resettlement and build meaningful connections within their new communities. By providing tailored support services, fostering social cohesion, and promoting resilience, these initiatives contribute to the successful integration and thriving of Hazara refugees in Australia.

 

Safeguarding Hazara Rights Globally

 

International collaborations play a crucial role in addressing the global refugee crisis and safeguarding the rights and well-being of Hazara asylum seekers. Australia's partnership with esteemed international organisations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), serves as a cornerstone in facilitating the resettlement process and providing essential support to Hazara refugees [20]. Through collaboration with the UNHCR, Australia gains access to expertise, resources, and networks necessary for effective refugee protection and assistance. This partnership ensures that Hazara asylum seekers receive appropriate humanitarian aid, legal protection, and resettlement opportunities, thereby enhancing their prospects for a secure and dignified future.

 

Moreover, bilateral agreements between Australia and countries in the region, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, play a fundamental role in addressing the challenges of irregular migration and human trafficking faced by Hazara refugees en route to Australia. These agreements promote cooperation on asylum seeker management, border security, and humanitarian assistance, aiming to address the root causes of displacement and protect the rights of vulnerable refugees. By collaborating with regional partners, Australia strengthens its capacity to respond effectively to the complex dynamics of irregular migration and human trafficking, while also demonstrating its commitment to regional stability and security [21].

 

By leveraging collective efforts and resources on a global scale, Australia can fulfill its humanitarian obligations, uphold the rights of refugees, and provide meaningful support to vulnerable communities seeking refuge from persecution and violence.

 

The Future For Hazara Refugees

 

Policy reforms, community initiatives, and international collaborations are indispensable components of a holistic approach towards improving the future prospects of Hazara asylum seekers in Australia. By implementing effective policies, fostering community engagement, and strengthening international partnerships, Australia can uphold its commitment to humanitarian values and provide Hazara refugees with the support and opportunities they need to thrive in their new home.

 

However, the responsibility to support Hazara asylum seekers does not solely lie with governments and organisations. As individuals and members of society, we also have a crucial role to play in supporting refugee communities. By raising awareness about the challenges faced by Hazara refugees, advocating for their rights, and actively engaging in initiatives that promote their integration and well-being, we can contribute to creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all refugees.

 

Looking ahead, the future holds both challenges and opportunities for Hazara asylum seekers in Australia. While the ongoing conflicts and instability in Afghanistan may continue to drive displacement, concerted efforts at the national and international levels can mitigate the impact and provide avenues for protection and resettlement. By working together and standing in solidarity with Hazara refugees, we can build a future where all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances, have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and contribute to the richness of Australian society.



 

Key points:

 

  • The Hazara community, originating from Afghanistan, have sought refuge in Australia due to ongoing conflicts and discrimination in their homeland.

 

  • Policy reforms, community initiatives, and international collaborations are essential components of improving the future prospects of Hazara asylum seekers in Australia.

 

  • Policy reforms include the introduction of community sponsorship programs, removal of temporary protection visas, and the establishment of the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.

 

  • Community initiatives, such as those led by NGOs and grassroots organisations, provide essential support services tailored to the specific needs of Hazara refugees, fostering integration and well-being.

  • International collaborations, particularly with organisations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries, play a crucial role in facilitating resettlement and addressing challenges faced by Hazara asylum seekers.

 

Definitions:

 

  • Hazara: An ethnic minority group primarily from Afghanistan, often subjected to persecution and discrimination [1].

  • Refugee: Refugee is a person who is outside their own country and is unable or unwilling to return due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their:

    • race

    • religion

    • nationality

    • membership of a particular social group or

    • political opinion [2].

  • Asylum Seekers: is a person who has fled their own country and applied for protection as a refugee [3].

  • Resettlement: The process of permanently relocating refugees to a third country, typically after they have been granted asylum [4].

  • Policy Reforms: Changes or revisions to government policies and regulations aimed at addressing specific issues or challenges [5].

  • Community Initiatives: Grassroots efforts and programs developed and implemented by local communities or organisations to support and empower marginalised groups [6].

  • International Collaborations: Cooperation and partnerships between countries, international organisations, and non-governmental entities to address global issues, including refugee resettlement and protection [7].

 

Raheel Bostan is a second-year Law/Commerce student. Having Moved to Australia from Pakistan in 2014, Raheel holds a keen interest in advocating for the Hazara People in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He wrote his article to raise awareness of the challenges faced by Hazara refugees seeking to build new lives in Australia and to encourage solidarity with the Hazara community.

36 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page