This Sunday 19 June kicks off Refugee Week, so I thought I’d take this moment to introduce myself to you. My name is Zaki Haidari, and I’m Amnesty International Australia’s new Refugee Campaigner. I myself am a refugee, first coming to Australia from Afghanistan in 2012.
I experienced the height of injustice growing up in my country. I have witnessed my people in Afghanistan being discriminated against and suffering genocide because of their ethnicity, beliefs and religion. For them, every single day their lives are at risk.
While Refugee Week is a time of celebration, it’s also a chance to reflect on the issues that affect refugees the most. And with over 100 million people currently displaced around the world, for me there’s one that stands out.
Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian program is inadequate, and it is failing the people who need it the most.
Back in 2020, the previous Australian Government cut 5,000 places from our Refugee and Humanitarian program. This left just 13,750 places — the lowest it’s been in 45 years. This means that as people from places such as Ukraine, Myanmar and Afghanistan flee their homes and everything they have ever known, Australia is turning its back on them.
Before this year’s federal election, the now Labor Government committed to increasing the Refugee and Humanitarian intake to 27,000 places annually. If they’re going to do this, they’ll need to make it clear in their Federal Budget – due to be handed down in October this year.
It is crucial that we raise our voices now, and hold them to their promise.
My journey to this point has been a long one. I started with Amnesty as a volunteer back in 2013. I was on a bridging visa, holding no working rights. Now, almost a decade later, I return to Amnesty as its Refugee Rights Campaigner, with a mission to advocate for people just like me. People who have escaped the unimaginable, and continue to experience human rights abuses just for seeking safety on Australian shores.
This Refugee Week and beyond I will continue to use my voice and experiences to fight for all those seeking asylum, so they can realise their full human rights and live in safety. I hope you’ll join me.
How you can take action today
- Sign the petition calling on the government to raise Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian intake
- Attend an online event on Friday 25 June that we are co-hosting to celebrate community-led support for refugees, and explores the new Community Sponsorship Program
Amnesty works to support refugees and asylum seekers. We challenge injustice by campaigning for the Australian government to raise the humanitarian intake, improve community sponsorship and end offshore detention. Learn more about our Refugee Rights campaign here.