Posted By

Tags

New Zealand to fly home visa-holders from Afghanistan

Venkat Raman
Auckland, October 7, 2021

The New Zealand government will send a Special Representative for Afghanistan to the Middle East to support its citizens, permanent residents and other visa-holders who want to leave that country.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said that the humanitarian condition in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate.

She said that visas have been granted to 1250 people and that the government is focusing on how to facilitate the entry of eligible people to enter New Zealand.

“While we cannot go into specifics of individual visas granted given privacy and security considerations, I can note that while granting visas Ministers supported members of the judiciary, human rights workers and prominent women who required assistance, and we have supported visas like this in a number of cases,” she said.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta (INL File Photo)

The situation in Afghanistan

Quoting UN sources, Al Jazeera reported that poverty and hunger have worsened since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, which has already suffered drought and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Half a million people have been displaced in recent months, the UN says, and the number will grow if health services and the economy breaks down. Hundreds of people have descended on the Passport Office in Kabul on October 6, 2021 after the Taliban government announced that it will reopen travel documents,” Al Jazeera said.

The New Zealand government’s move to support the move of Visa-holders back to this country follows a military deployment in August that secured the evacuation of 393 New Zealand visa holders. Since then, 35 people have arrived in New Zealand.

Describing the move as ‘one of the largest and most complex humanitarian responses undertaken by New Zealand,’ Ms Mahuta said that the situation in Afghanistan continues to be challenging and risky.

Role of Special Representative

“As we continue to try to help people who have been able to cross land borders into neighbouring countries, I am appointing a Special Representative for Afghanistan to support our efforts on the ground and work closely with our partners to secure onward travel out of the region and on to New Zealand. This operation is highly dependent on multilateral cooperation with like-minded partners and countries neighbouring Afghanistan who have borne the brunt of those fleeing the Taliban. A Special Representative will help lead discussions, as well as work with other staff to help confirm and verify those who have managed to cross the border,” she said.

Ms Mahuta said that the initial evacuation mission was a challenging operation and conceded that it would not be possible to evacuate ‘everyone keen to leave Afghanistan that time.’

However, we are still able to bring hundreds of people home amid a deteriorating security situation and New Zealand’s efforts have played a key role in supporting the international humanitarian efforts, she said.

An Afghan boy watches as Taliban fighters search for a man accused of a stabbing in Kabul (AP Photo by Felipe Dana)

Security and health challenges

“We are focused on the second phase of our response in Afghanistan. This means that working through the financial, legal, health and security challenges that Afghan nationals who try to travel will face, as well as the practical realities of travelling to New Zealand in a global pandemic. Officials are also assessing what further humanitarian support New Zealand can provide, as well as the immigration pathways available,” Ms Mahuta said.

She said that the New Zealand government is aware of other countries announcing allocations within their current refugee quotas.

“We wish to fully understand the best path forward for Afghan nationals and New Zealanders. We will be maintaining pressure on the Taliban to uphold human rights including for women and girls and other vulnerable groups,” Ms Mahuta said.

New Zealand’s humanitarian support

New Zealand has committed $6 million in humanitarian assistance to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Population Fund, and the United Nations Children’s Fund and to date has supported the arrival of 428 people into New Zealand. Of these, half were women and girls. This is in addition to the approximately 140 Afghan interpreters and their families already resettled in New Zealand over the 8 years since our major military deployment ended and our Embassy closed.

Share this story

Related Stories

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement