An interpreter who worked for the New Zealand Defense Forces in Afghanistan says the time to leave is running out, with reports that the Taliban are going door-to-door looking for those who worked with the government.
Basir Ahmad is hiding in Kabul. He and 34 other people from the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) have been promised a flight.
They were increasingly anxious to find out how that would actually happen, he said.
“Each person calls me 10 or 20 times a day asking for that information and I don’t have it. They say how we can get to the airport, because the airport is in chaos … it’s out of control.”
They were all scattered around Kabul, he said.
“Some of them are afraid to reveal their location as a matter of security. But they call me and tell me that right now in Bamyan the Taliban are searching houses and have started door-to-door searching for people who work for New York. PRT from Zealand “.
Ahmad said two people from the New Zealand PRT had problems with their documents and may not be able to board the flight.
The group had contacted the New Zealand government before the fall of the Afghan government, asking for help in leaving, he said.
“They said they were arguing and said we should wait.”
A week ago, the government surrendered to the Taliban.
“Some of us moved to the mountains and others went to Kabul, where they went through the Taliban checkpoints, they were looking for information and documentation, but they couldn’t find any documents.”
The decision to remove the PRT from New Zealand was a “life-saving decision” and Ahmad was eager for advice on how to leave with the Defense Forces.
“It is sad to see this country in this situation.”
Meanwhile, University of Waikato law professor Alexander Gillespie said New Zealand has a responsibility to host more Afghan citizens who are at risk of retaliation from the Taliban.
Other allies had agreed to increase their refugee quota and include women, journalists and those previously held in positions of power.
“Canada took 20,000 people, the United Kingdom took 20,000 people, Australia took 3,000 people.
“However, New Zealand has yet to make a statement on whether it will change its quota of refugees and bring these people in.”
Gillespie said it was a difficult subject, but one that needed to be talked about.
“I think we have a responsibility to do that because we were involved in this conflict.
“In parallel, the last time this happened was in the Vietnam War and again, we were on the losing side. New Zealand raised its hand and took over 1500 people in the late 1970s. Now we must follow that same precedent. and show our responsibility again towards these people who are at extreme risk. “