The first group of people evacuated from Afghanistan after the dramatic takeover of power by the Taliban will be released from MIQ in the coming days.
Three hundred and seventy evacuees with ties to this country managed to get out safely with the help of the New Zealand Defense Forces before a terrorist attack at Kabul airport abruptly ended evacuation flights from New Zealand.
The evacuees are a mix of New Zealand passport holders plus people who have worked for various New Zealand agencies, including Defense for the past 20 years, and their families.
For many, leaving home was abrupt, dangerous and very traumatic and they will need to help them adjust to New Zealand life.
Kairullah Azizi from the Afghan Association said the culture shock will be huge for many of them who left without warning and are now in a very foreign country.
” Many of them have just arrived with their clothes on, it was something that was done very quickly and therefore they will need some support in terms of clothing or food and shoes etc. just to pass until they return. on your feet. ”
He said that the language, the food and even the weather will be the first surprises they will face.
” As a community, as Afghans we will have to come and support them with things like housing, food, and initially we will have to support them and take them to places, be it doctor appointments, or language appointments. centers that they are going to go to to learn the English language and obviously you have to put some kind of support around them so that they can help themselves and then stand up for themselves.
Diamond Kazimi is a former refugee from Afghanistan.
He believes, from his own experience as a refugee, that the first few months in New Zealand will be difficult for newcomers.
” Support I think they would really need it with housing, education and to find new jobs, but yes, it will be quite challenging during the first months in terms of adapting to the community and society in which they are going to live and also adapting to the culture that it is one of the most important things for some of them. Not for everyone.”
He is hopeful that once the initial interest in their plight fades, they will not be abandoned and forgotten.
” It would be really good or helpful for these people to have the continued support of networks, volunteers, community groups to make sure that these people are really adapting to society and getting the support and services they need in New Zealand for first few months, even for the first 12 months I guess. ”
The president of the Federation of Multicultural Councils, Pancha Narayanan, said that now that the first group has been in this country for two weeks, the full awareness of what has happened to them will be sinking.
” What they have left behind, the scenes they would have seen just before they left. The pain, the trauma, the anger. These emotions will not be easy to deal with right away. All New Zealand needs to do is be extremely kind and compassionate in the early days of their settlement. ”
He said a helpline has been set up to help newcomers.
“At the end of that helpline are people who speak the two main languages (of Afghanistan) Pashto and Dari whom anyone can call for help or to seek some empathy.”
The executive director of Refugees As Survivors, a primary mental health and wellness service in Auckland, said the Afghan people come from a conflict zone and will be disoriented.
She said it will take some time for them to reestablish themselves.
” They are operating in a very abnormal situation, so they will probably be under a lot of stress. They will have quite a bit of regret for leaving, many people did not want to leave, I’m sure. They have chosen to live there and many of them, especially some of the Kiwi citizens who I think have been there for many years, so they will be very sad and they will also be sad that they have to leave people behind, which is going to be a big problem. big problem ”.
Immigration New Zealand said that Settlement Case Officers will be assigned to each family to assist with their ongoing needs.
He said many have had a traumatic experience and will need time before conversations can take place to establish their needs.
Immigration New Zealand General Manager for Refugee and Migrant Services Fiona Whiteridge said she is committed to making sure first-time visitors are connected to the support they need in the community.
” The government has arranged temporary accommodation for those who must leave managed isolation and quarantine shortly and have no alternative accommodation options. The government also continues to work on longer-term accommodation options, when needed. ”