A western Sydney-based lawyer with 200 clients trying to leave Afghanistan for Australia to join their relatives is warning many are being turned away at the airport in Kabul or are struggling with instructions from the federal government.
Anna Ryburn, a solicitor and migration agent who runs Ryburn Migration in Merrylands, has been trying to get hundreds of people out of Afghanistan including Hazara Afghan visa applicants who are spouses, children and orphan relatives of Australians to ensure their safety. However, she said the situation is “stressful” with changing rules, little confirmation of who is allowed to leave and regular phone calls from clients in Afghanistan telling her they have been stuck in violent crowds at the airport or have been turned away when they get through the gate.
Their situations lay bare the difficulties facing people trying to leave Afghanistan as well as the “chaotic” scenes on the ground the Australian government has been grappling with.
“People will be separated from children or wives potentially for life … we need to be caring for our fellow Australians be they citizens or permanent residents until America’s gone and we have gone too,” Ms Ryburn said.
Ms Ryburn said one mother of four – three of whom are Australian citizens – reached the gate at 2pm on Wednesday and was there until 1am on Thursday before she left unable to get through. Another mother who went to the airport with her three children, including a two-year-old, faced a violent crowd and her children saw two people shot dead. She said they also went home.
Another client could only get into the airport by calling out “Australian, Australian, Australian” at the gate. She was let in by German authorities, she said.
“I know lots of people are trying really hard but we need to do better if we’re going to succeed,” Ms Ryburn said.
“Where’s our person letting Australians and relatives of Australians in? And when they’re inside can we have a spirit of rescue that our mission is to do what we can? If you have people who have made it into the airport – pick them up. If the plane is too full let them sleep in the airport for a day or two.”
Ms Ryburn has started writing letters to government ministers to seek clarity and help. One of her clients from Berala, who spoke through her sister acting as a translator, said her husband was stuck at the airport. The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age have not named these clients to ensure their relatives in Afghanistan are not impacted.