Australia is facing scathing criticism over the resettling of Afghan interpreters and other locals who put their lives on the line to help the defence force (ADF) during our longest war. Veterans, politicians and Afghan refugees argue Australia is shirking its moral duty by not fast-tracking visas for Afghan locally engaged employees (LEES) as other allied countries accelerate their programs.
The government says it's trying, pointing to a program established in 2013 that has since resettled 1400 LEEs and their families. This week Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said 186 people had been given visas since April, but there are thought to be up to 1000 still waiting in Afghanistan. Many who worked for Australia have already been killed by an emboldened Taliban.
The harsh reality is that Australia will never be able to adequately resettle all those who helped it. Afghanistan is in a messy and chaotic state and is on the brink of disaster, which makes evacuation attempts challenging, especially with the Australian embassy closed. And while Australia's approach has been slow and cumbersome, Canberra-based bureaucrats far from the horrors of war will always struggle for a satisfactory solution.