Amnesty International calls on the Australian Government to urgently provide humanitarian visas to Palestinian people fleeing Gaza


Australia has not offered humanitarian protection to a single Palestinian fleeing Gaza, despite the International Court of Justice ruling that Palestinians in Gaza are at grave risk of genocide due to Israel’s military operation in Gaza and the Israeli government’s denial of aid from entering the Occupied Territory creating an catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

“It is unacceptable that Palestinians fleeing Gaza are blocked from applying for humanitarian protection in Australia. The severity and significance of the crisis in Gaza is unprecedented. Palestinian Australians are desperate and distressed for their family members trapped in Gaza,” says Amnesty International spokesperson Mohamed Duar.

While Palestinians fleeing Gaza have been directed to apply for tourist visas to travel to Australia, the Department of Home Affairs recently reported that 4,614 Palestinians have been denied tourist visas to Australia, amounting to 60% of applications. Most of these rejections have been under the basis that the application does not genuinely intend to stay in Australia temporarily. To date, only 340 Palestinians have arrived in Australia.

“To ask Palestinians fleeing the horrific conditions in Gaza to apply for tourist visas and then reject those applications on the grounds of the visa being temporary is either highly dysfunctional or deliberately cruel, or both,” says Amnesty International spokesperson Mohamed Duar.

Amnesty demands that the Australian Government clarify whether those who have had visas rejected have an appeal mechanism available, and if the tourist visa is not the appropriate visa then the Government must establish a clear visa pathway so people can bring their family to safety.

Amnesty International recently met with the Department of Foreign Affairs and raised the inappropriate classification of immediate family members that are eligible to apply for visas to travel to Australia and requested that the classification be broadened to include extended family members.

Palestinians who have arrived in Australia under the tourist visa aren’t allowed to apply for humanitarian visas once their tourist visa expires. Ukrainians were allowed to apply for a temporary 786 Safe Haven visa, and given the relentless bombardment of the last eight months and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, Palestinians should also be allowed to apply for these humanitarian visas. Instead, the government has provided pathways to Bridging Visa E, which requires people to reapply for the visa every six months, compared to three years for a 786 Safe Haven Visa, leaving people in limbo. Bridging Visa E also denies people the right to undertake study.

“The sudden cancellation of visas in March 2024, and continued rejection of visas because the person does not intend to stay in Australia temporarily when the only visas offered were tourist visas, and the lack of support provided to Palestinians who have been able to reach Australia, has caused the Palestinian community in Australia distress, as they try to support their families seeking safety,” says Amnesty International spokesperson Mohamed Duar.

“Australia provided 11,000 visas to Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression and we must do more to support Palestinian families in Australia seeking to bring their loved ones to safety.”