A former Afghan interpreter says his family members were killed by the Taliban by the New Zealand government.
Time is fast running out for those trying to escape Afghanistan, as the country’s new rulers insist that all foreign forces must depart next Tuesday.
The combined military forces airlifted some 19,000 more people from Kabul airport over the past 24 hours, including Western citizens and Afghans who had assisted NATO forces.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed this morning that it had stopped processing resettlement visa applications due to what it called the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
The move has been strongly condemned by human rights defenders.
Diamond Kazimi, who assisted the New Zealand Defense Forces in Afghanistan, said Morning report He had received word yesterday that relocation visas were no longer being processed and that immigration officials were clearing a backlog of existing applications.
He said the lack of urgency on the part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) made it impossible for his family to leave on Tuesday and the decision had effectively turned them over to the Taliban to die.
Kazimi, who has lived in New Zealand for 10 years, added that she had given up hope that the visas would be processed on time.
“We just got a message last night from Foreign Relations that they are no longer processing resettlement applications and that sadly they cannot do much with these families that have been left behind,” he said.
“So literally they have been handed over to the Taliban, in other words. That means basically my family will be left behind in Afghanistan.”
Kazimi said that if his family were to receive visas after Tuesday, it would put their lives in greater danger, as the documents would serve to mark them as aligned with Western NATO military powers.
“The situation in Afghanistan is really dangerous right now, especially for the people trying to get to the airport and the limited flights for New Zealanders and Afghans who have assisted the New Zealand Defense Forces,” he said.
“We have 200 families who have assisted New Zealand Defense Forces personnel … They are still waiting for their visas, they are still waiting for them to be processed.
“My brothers, I have two sisters and a brother who literally cannot even get out. They are waiting for this miraculous visa, but now that they have a message that they are no longer processing, they simply have to accept their reality that they left me there to die.
“There is not much process, there is not much planning. Look what our neighboring country, Australia, the United States and Canada are doing: they already have thousands.”
He said New Zealand had been given years to reunite people like him with their loved ones, but had failed to meet humanitarian obligations.
“It is too late now. We have had many years of these opportunities to help these people who helped the New Zealand Defense Force and other government agencies reunite them with their families and at least help them evacuate since 2017,” he said.
“Now we are in 2021 and we still have a couple more days to help them. But now that the official websites with MFAT and the email that says they are no longer processing visas or resettlement applications, it is basically their response that they cannot help them. “. . “
The United States said this morning that it would try to get as many people out as possible over the next six days, but that the crowded Kabul airport was making operations a logistical challenge.
A Defense Force Hercules arrived at his base in the Middle East yesterday after evacuating a second group of New Zealanders and Australians from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan.
About 80 people in total are involved in the current mission, including 19 in the Middle East.
Human rights defenders condemn the initiative
As the mission continues, more than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to increase the number of refugees evacuated from Afghanistan.
The joint petition from Amnesty International, Oxfam and Action Station highlights the serious concerns they have for civilians, women’s rights defenders, journalists and researchers.
Lisa Woods, campaign manager for Amnesty International Aotearoa, who is presenting the petition to Golriz Ghahraman today, said Morning report The government’s decision to stop processing visa applications was “incredibly disappointing.”
“It is unacceptable, given the magnitude of the human rights crisis we are facing. The New Zealand government really needs to take urgent action. So we are calling for them immediately, within this window that is closing, to expand support. evacuation to more people.
“But they also need to think longer term, in terms of what they are doing to help refugees in New Zealand.”
Woods said advocates would continue to pressure the government to do so.
“I think it’s important for people to know that we have the capacity here in New Zealand to do more, so we shouldn’t stop. We should keep up that pressure until the government recognizes its obligations and fulfills them.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for comment on the decision to stop processing visa applications.