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Federal Govt has reinstated visas for some Palestinians fleeing Gaza

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The Federal Government has reinstated visas granting some Palestinian people entry to Australia.
palestinian visas reinstated

The Federal Government has reinstated visas granting some Palestinian people entry to Australia.

The group had fled Gaza before their visas were suddenly cancelled last week, leaving some stranded at international airports.

The visas have now been reinstated, meaning those Palestinians impacted can resume their journey to Australia. The Home Affairs Department has not clarified why the visas were cancelled in the first place.

Background

On 7 October, Hamas launched an attack on Israel. According to data cited by the UN, roughly 1,200 people were killed. Hamas, which Australia lists as a terrorist organisation, captured about 240 hostages. 134 remain captive today.

Israel responded by declaring war and bombarding Gaza. According to data cited by the UN, more than 31,000 Palestinians have now been killed since 7 October. Israel’s war in Gaza has caused a humanitarian crisis, with the UN warning that famine is “imminent”. Israel has said it will not stop fighting until all hostages are returned and Hamas is destroyed.

Visas

More than 2,200 visas were granted to Palestinians between October 7 and the start of February 2024.

However, only a small number of those who’ve been granted visas have arrived in Australia already.

Visas were prioritised for people with an Australian connection, such as a family member. Most don’t give the visa-holder working rights in Australia.

Cancellations

According to advocacy groups, including the Refugee Council of Australia and Palestine Australia Relief and Action (PARA), some Palestinians had their visas cancelled on their way to Australia last week.

PARA said by the time they were notified, people had already fled Gaza.

Co-founder of PARA Rasha Abbas said: “A mother and her four children travelled halfway to Australia but were forced back to Egypt when their visa was cancelled.”

Cabinet Minister Murray Watt told the ABC some visas were cancelled as part of a routine process where authorities pause visas to investigate individual cases “if circumstances change”.

Watt confirmed that “further information” had “come to light” which allowed some visas to be handed back.

PARA said eight out of the 12 people who’d been told their visas were cancelled have since had their visas reinstated.

Response

PARA described the visa cancellations as a “complete mess” that caused “uncertainty and anxiety”. The organisation said it was “relieved” the affected Palestinian people will now be able to relocate to Australia.

Before the visas were reinstated, Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Paterson said it’s “just not possible” for authorities to adequately identify, “let alone [conduct] security checks, on people coming from a war zone“.

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