Saturday, November 27

‘Hundreds’ of people left in Afghanistan: Defense minister

More than 500 people in Afghanistan eligible to come to New Zealand may have been stranded to their own destination, as the nighttime bombing of Kabul airport ended more evacuation flights by the New Zealand Defense Forces.

An RNZAF C130 landed in Kabul Afghanistan today and safely evacuated several New Zealanders and Australians.  Co-pilot Flight Lieutenant Michal-Louise Repko concentrating on the descent to Kabul.

An RNZAF C130 over Afghanistan during a mission to evacuate several New Zealanders.
Photo: Supplied / New Zealand Defense Force

Sixty people, including 13 US soldiers, were killed and many others injured after a suicide bomb attack on the crowded airport gates.

ISIS-K, an affiliate of the Islamic State, has since claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The government says it is not giving up on helping those stranded in Afghanistan.

But tonight, Defense Minister Peeni Henare told Checkpoint that he could not give an update on the number of people evacuated from Afghanistan by the NZDF, as the prosecution was ongoing.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t catch everyone,” Henare said.

He reiterated the prime minister’s commitment to seek those who cannot leave.

“We are talking about hundreds,” of people left behind, he said.

“Once we have been able to process those who have been taken out of Afghanistan in the last 24 hours and compare them to a list that we have been preparing … then we will have a better idea of ​​where things are and who are not. ‘ evacuated. “

When asked if New Zealand would come back, for example, to get a man who had been granted a visa for Aotearoa, Henare said “no, we won’t.”

“As Defense Minister, I am saying that our people, the New Zealand Defense Forces personnel, are not on the ground. We have removed our people.”

Khairullah Azizi from the Afghan Association had been able to connect with two men who were trying to get out and who were caught in the shelling.

Fortunately, they survived the bomb blast, but they came home bloody from the blood of others and possibly injured themselves, so obviously I can’t imagine what happened, but those are the two people I know who went through. that’s why in terms of coming to New Zealand, “Azizi said.

He wasn’t sure what would happen next.

“Whether they got home safely or not, I don’t have an update.”

They would have to sit back and wait until someone gave them an update on what New Zealand and the rest of the forces and allies plan to do to get other people out, Azizi said.

Former NZDF interpreter in Afghanistan, Diamond Kazimi, said the attacks would not discourage people who were desperate to escape.

“I have friends and family who just want to get out and have tried three or four times and were unsuccessful and came home. I don’t think it will stop the desperation of people trying to leave. “

Moral responsibility

The president of the Federation of Multicultural Councils, Pancha Narayanan, said it was essential that the international community not give up on Afghanistan.

New Zealand needs to be proactive in helping those who want to go out, he said.

” Do we accept that the Taliban are the legitimate government, given that there is no government at the moment? So if they are the ones who control the environment, those are the people we need to talk to and negotiate with to get these people out. ”

It is essential that Western countries continue their efforts to save the people who have helped them in the past from retaliation by the Taliban, Narayanan said.

” To ensure that the people they are responsible for are identified and to make it transparent to New Zealand communities what the next steps will be. The point is, we have a moral responsibility to these people. ”

The United Nations must step up and get involved, he said.

Anna Powles of the Massey University Center for Defense and Security Studies said New Zealand had a moral obligation to continue its focus on Afghanistan.

” We should accept more refugees. We need to have that conversation a lot more. There has been a lot of activism in New Zealand around hosting much larger numbers of refugees. If Uganda can do it, and Mexico can do it, then New Zealand can certainly do it, “Powles said.

The security situation in Afghanistan was unstable and diffuse among various factions, including the Taliban and ISIS, he said.

“We are likely to see increased insecurity as a consequence and for the Afghan people that is obviously one of their main concerns. The degree of insecurity that will occur as a result of a Taliban takeover. ”

Azizi said it was unimaginable what those still in Afghanistan were going through, and that many now fear for their lives.

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