Twenty years ago on Thursday, Australia became one of the first nations in the world to join the US-led war in Afghanistan, known as "Operation Enduring Freedom".
It became the longest war in our history. During that time we made significant promises to the people of Afghanistan, as well as to the people we sent to war.
In August 2005, while dispatching Australian special forces to Afghanistan to fight an insurgent Taliban, our then-prime minister, John Howard, told the departing soldiers that the embrace of democracy by the people of Afghanistan must be protected and that "it's fundamental to the war against terror that Afghanistan be given the opportunity of fully embracing democracy, and if that happens and democracy takes root in that country, that [it] is protected".
As late as April this year, when announcing the complete withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that Australia remains "committed to helping Afghanistan preserve the gains of the last 20 years, particularly for women and girls".
We now approach two months since the world witnessed the Taliban forcibly take control of Afghanistan.
Since then, we have seen a constant flow of horrific news come out of the country.
For women, the horror includes the Taliban ordering high schools to reopen for boys only - to be educated by male teachers only - and the replacement of the former ministry of women's affairs with the newly established ministry for the prevention of vice and the promotion of virtue - a ministry infamous for its public executions and floggings under the Taliban's rule in the 1990s.
For vulnerable minority groups, we have seen the Taliban re-escalating their systemic discrimination and oppression of Afghanistan's long-persecuted Hazara people.
On August 19, Amnesty International reported that Taliban fighters massacred nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of Afghanistan's Ghazni province. According to Amnesty, "six of the men were shot and three were tortured to death, including one man who was strangled with his own scarf and had his arm muscles sliced off." Last week, more than 800 families of the Hazara-dominated farming community in central Afghanistan reported that they had been ordered to leave their homes and lands.
Just this week, the Taliban unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras, including a 17 year-old girl, in the village of Kahor in Daykundi province, and in a worrying escalation of violence just two days ago, at least 100 Hazara worshippers were killed or injured in a suicide bombing that targeted a Shia Mosque in Kunduz.
There is no end to the reports of horrific human rights abuses committed by the Taliban. In the city of Herat, the Taliban killed alleged kidnappers and hung their bodies up from a crane in public to deter others. Public executions were common in Afghanistan, when the Taliban last ruled. The Taliban official now in charge of prisons has been quoted as saying that executions and amputations would resume as they are "necessary for security".
Australians across the country, and across the political spectrum, have been shocked by the news coming out of Afghanistan, and over the last seven weeks Australians have supported calls by the Afghanistan-Australian Advocacy Network (AAAN) for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take immediate steps in response to that country's humanitarian crisis.
Close to 200,000 people have signed a petition organised by the AAAN calling on the government to take action. This is follows an open letter signed by nearly 10,000 Australians so far.
Prominent Australians such as Australian of the Year Grace Tame, Tamie Fraser, Benjamin Law, Brittany Higgins, Nova Peris, Osher Gunsburg, Peter Greste and Amanda Keller - to name just a few - have also spoken out about the need for action from the Australian government.
We have also seen Christian leaders across Australia unite to highlight our moral duty to respond. Father Frank Brennan is calling on Australia to boost its humanitarian program refugee intake by 20,000 people - an extra 1000 places for every year we were at war in Afghanistan.
Politicians across the political spectrum, including federal government MP John Alexander and 73 members of the NSW Parliament, have also called on the government to significantly raise our humanitarian intake.
But despite widespread support in the community for the Australian government to take immediate action, all we have heard from Prime Minister Scott Morrison is talk about floors and ceilings, followed by weeks of radio silence.
Australians recognise that after 20 years of intervention and promises to the people of Afghanistan, our government has a moral obligation to take immediate action in response to a serious humanitarian crisis.
Australia joined the United States, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom, among others, as part of coalition forces 20 years ago as of Thursday.
Our international counterparts, like the UK and Canada, announced they would be accepting 20,000 Afghan refugees each. Just this week, Canada announced it would double that resettlement target to 40,000.
We did not hesitate to join the UK and Canada in the war in Afghanistan. Now we must step up and join them in responding to the humanitarian crisis we all left behind.
The Morrison government can show the same compassion and humanity that the Abbott government demonstrated in response to the Syrian war by announcing and resettling 12,000 Syrians and Iraqis. This, importantly, wasn't even after 20 years of promises of democracy, protection and freedom.
We need actions and commitments that serve to match the commitment we made to our longest war. We need actions and commitments that match the many promises we made to the people of Afghanistan. We need action from our government, and a commitment to 20,000 additional humanitarian places, today.
- Arif Hussein is a human rights lawyer at the Refugee Advice and Casework Service. Twitter: @ArifHuss