Support for colleagues in Afghanistan
Kia ora koutou NZBA Members
Some members have asked how they can support lawyers and judges in Afghanistan who may be facing very real threats to their lives. This page contains some ideas on how you can contribute - if you are in a position to do so.
I want to emphasise that not everyone will be able to help. Many people will have financial, time, and wellbeing constraints. It is important to look after yourself and not take on more than you can deal with.
Many people who are watching the situation unfold in Afghanistan are already exhausted by a feeling of helplessness - and hopelessness. What can we do? There are 26 million refugees worldwide. We can't take them all. We can't even get people out of Kabul Airport.
Looking at the overall enormity of this situation can lead to a form of paralysis and despair that any help will be too little and too late. That is far from the case. Those who are currently in hiding may be able to cross the border and potentially reach the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. There are others who are already on the way here. At this point, offers of placement in a new home, support networks, contributions towards shelter, food, and medicine, are all critical.
In 2002 Abbas Nazari and his family arrived in New Zealand as refugees from Afghanistan. They did not choose to leave their home. They were forced out of it. But they rebuilt their lives from scratch. Abbas later became a Fulbright scholar. He has detailed his story in a new book, After the Tampa (Published by Allen & Unwin NZ). The Guardian has published an extract from his book. Abbas and his family show how helping refugees contributes to our overall well-being as a nation.
You do what you can, and only if you can. You may be making different contributions to the world, such as supporting friends emotionally or undertaking local projects.
However, if you do want to do something to help in this particular crisis, there are a few options, such as donation, advocacy, and potentially, pro bono help for legal needs. We have outlined some of these options but would welcome any suggestions members may have.
Nga mihi nui,
Paul Radich QC
Donation to charities:
The first thing you can do is give money. Never underestimate the power of your donation. You may feel that you should be doing more, but that donation is working in a way you cannot hope to do. It is funding the provision of medical care, shelter, and food for the displaced. If you can afford it (and in these uncertain times, that is a big IF), give a few dollars to a charity that you feel confident will do some good.
The New Zealand Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are responding by assisting the wounded and disabled, making prison visits, helping detainees maintain contact with their families, supporting hospitals, preventing violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and supporting the Afghan Red Crescent.
New Zealand Red Cross stands ready to support the New Zealand government with any future resettlement plans for any evacuated Afghan nationals.
You can help the people of Afghanistan by donating to the Red Cross's Afghanistan Appeal.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
The UNHCR's primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of people who have been forced to flee. The agency works to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another country.
Over half a million people have already been displaced by the violence in Afghanistan so far this year. Some 80 percent of nearly a quarter of a million Afghans forced to flee since the end of May are women and children. UNHCR is on the ground providing
International Association of Women Judges
The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) has created a fundraising campaign. The Association will use the funds to provide direct aid to its Afghan members in desperate need and will be working on safe and fair ways to apply the funds. It will also use the funds to support the work of the IAWJ Afghan Women Judges’ Aid Committee, chaired by the IAWJ President, Hon. Justice Susan Glazebrook. The Committee needs financial support for the translation, interpretation, logistical and administrative support that provides direct aid to members and their families in Afghanistan. The IAWJ's interpreters and staff have offered their time and expertise to meet this urgent need, and the Association would like to compensate them through unrestricted funds. Excess funds be will used to support women judges globally who find themselves in need.
Donations can be made through wire transfer or through the 'Donate' page on the IAWJ website. When donating, please note Afghan Women Judges’ Aid Committee in the memo of your donation. If you have questions about donating or for the wire transfer information, please contact Executive Director, Christie Jones, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we have seen recently, advocacy is incredibly important. Adding your voice to others can influence governments. Advocacy does not necessarily involve a placard or getting trolled on social media. It can be a quick email or letter. If you can, write to those who are able to influence Government policy, such as the Minister for Immigration and Justice, the Attorney-General, your local MPs (these are very important - the more constituents who contact them the better).
Some of the advocacy organisations have been asking the Government to do the following:
- Widen evacuation support from Afghanistan to more people, including those who are particularly vulnerable to attack.
- Expedite visas and provide relocation and resettlement
- Action an immediate pause on the deportation of people to Afghanistan
Pro Bono Legal Services
The NZBA approached other organisations to find out if there was a centralised approach to pro bono services for Afghan refugees. Community Law discussed the issue internally and it quickly became apparent that the legal situation with regards to at-risk people with connections to New Zealand has been changing rapidly, and may continue to do so in the coming weeks. With regards to those already on the way, it’s not clear at this stage what their legal needs are.
However, a centralised point of contact at INZ, together with an up-to-date online portal would help enormously, and we are told that immigration advisors have also been asking for this. As a small but practical step, Community Law suggests a joint letter from professional organisations to MBIE requesting this. NZBA is considering endorsing this letter.
We will keep you up to date on the pro bono needs in this area.