‘Complete mess’: Palestinians fleeing Gaza have Australian visas abruptly cancelled

Nearly 6000 temporary Australian visas have been granted to Palestinians and Israelis since October, 2023.

Nearly 6000 temporary Australian visas have been granted to Palestinians and Israelis since October, 2023. Photo: Getty

“Several” Palestinians fleeing Gaza have had their temporary Australian visas cancelled, according to multiple reports.

SBS first reported on Wednesday evening that five people from Gaza had their Australian visas retracted by the government in recent days.

In one of those cases, a woman was about to get onto a plane bound for Australia, only to receive notice her visa had been cancelled.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said it was “an incredibly distressing time for Australians with extended family members in Gaza”.

“All visa applicants undergo security checks and are subject to ongoing security assessments. The Australian government reserves the right to cancel any issued visas if circumstances change,” the statement read.

One cancelled notification, seen by the ABC, stated its subject had “never intended a genuine stay temporarily in Australia.”

The Palestine Australia Relief and Action group said it was “deeply concerned” about the cancellations.

“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.

Sabawi is in Egypt and said she had spoken with Palestinians impacted by the cancellations, who were now stranded.

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

PARA said it was seeking urgent clarification over the cancellations. PARA is funding some of the flights for families who have been able to gain safe passage to Australia.

The organisation said it now has four families booked on flights, including two kids and a mother, parents in their sixties and a 91-year-old who now face uncertainty.

The Australian government granted over nearly temporary visas for Palestinians and Israelis between October 2023 and February 2024.

Reports said some who had their visas cancelled had their visas initially granted months ago, but had to wait to secure safe passage out of Gaza.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese declined to comment on Thursday.

“I understand it’s a very difficult circumstance for families,” he said. “These decisions are made upon advice.”

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said the visas should never have been issued.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for people to be brought out of a war zone into Australia,” he said.

Greens immigration spokesperson Nick McKim declared the situation displayed “a lack of humanity”.

“At the very least, those affected must be granted temporary visas immediately so they can stay safely in Australia while any issues are resolved,” he said.

Meanwhile, America has asked Australia to chip in for more humanitarian aid in the war torn Gaza as Washington moves ahead with plans to bring in relief by sea.

The United States is setting up a port in Gaza so more humanitarian aid can flow through as the international community raises concerns about dwindling supplies reaching civilians in the besieged strip and starvation.

A request has been made to partner nations, including Australia, for help setting up the port while further aid to flow through would be welcomed, AAP understands.

The US is working with Israel to establish the aid corridor, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

The corridor would distribute up to two million meals a day on top of medicine, water and other supplies.

Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada are also supporting this effort.

– with AAP

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