Palestinian-Australians ask for compassion amid visa chaos

The Palestinian-Australian community has expressed anger and frustration this week, multiple instances emerge of family members having their visas cancelled en route to Australia.

Palestine Australia Relief and Action (PARA) is deeply concerned and seeking urgent clarification as to why some visa cancellations are occurring, leaving Australian family members devastated as their loved ones are being flown back to Egypt or denied departure all together.

“Palestinian refugees, who have been vetted multiple times and given visas to join families in Australia, families with young children who escaped the horror of Gaza are now left in airports confused and stranded, without any resources or support structure.” PARA Founder and Director, Dr Samah Sabawi

While temporary visas were granted to hundreds of family members of Australian citizens, the number of Palestinains who have been able to safely leave Gaza is much lower, with the Australian Government citing ‘extremely limited’ capacity to assist them.

PARA, who is funding flights for families who have gained safe passage, say the abrupt cancellation of previously approved visas has caused significant distress and confusion for people who have already suffered extreme trauma. PARA has four families booked on flights, including a mum with two kids, parents in their sixties, and a 91-year-old, who are all uncertain if they can board the flights.

PARA Founder and Executive Director, Rasha Abbas, has emphasised the need for leadership and compassion.

“These people have faced unimaginable horrors, and yet this week it gets worse, with people beginning the journey to be reunited with family, only to be turned back. A mother and her four children travelled halfway to Australia but were forced back to Egypt when their visa was cancelled during the second part of the journey.

At PARA, we’ve seen the very best of this country – tireless dedication, compassion, commitment, and generosity from Australians who want to welcome these people into their homes and their communities. We understand the Australian Government is responding to a fast-moving situation, but their compassion must prevail too.”

On the ground in Cairo, PARA Founder and Director, Dr Samah Sabawi, has spoken with Palestinians impacted by the cancellations and are now stranded in Egypt.

“Lots of tears, uncertainty, and anxiety. It’s a complete mess.”

PARA is calling on the government to urgently resolve the situation and allow Palestinian visa holders to travel to family in Australia and find the safety they deserve.

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