Saturday, December 4

Government urged to speed up visa process for stranded Afghans

Afghans living in this country are pleading with the government not to forget about the people with New Zealand connections who are still trapped in Afghanistan.

An RNZAF C130 landed in Kabul Afghanistan today and safely evacuated several New Zealanders and Australians.

An RNZAF C130 landed in Kabul Afghanistan in late August to safely evacuate several New Zealanders and Australians.
Photo: Supplied / New Zealand Defense Force

They fear that those who failed to get out when the Taliban quickly took control will be ignored now that the world’s attention has shifted.

A court offer to make sure the government keeps its promise to help and to speed up the visa process will be heard in Superior Court in November.

The New Zealand Defense Force managed to evacuate more than 300 people from Kabul in late August before a bomb attack near Kabul airport abruptly ended the flights.

It is not known exactly how many people were left behind, but it has been estimated at hundreds.

The government said a decision will be made soon on what it calls phase two.

A former interpreter, who worked for the NZDF, Ali Ahmad, and who lives in this country, said that those left in Afghanistan are suffering.

” They are still trying to find out what the government is going to do, what their plan is, we just want to know. Everything has gone silent and they are just saying what we have to do. Some of them are running out of money, because they have moved from home and they don’t have a job, yes, it is very hard for them right now. ”

He said they still fear for their lives.

“The Taliban have already started knocking on doors to try to identify and match the details they already have, and if they do, it is the end.”

The secretary of the New Zealand Afghan Association, Kairullah Azizi, said the government must act quickly.

“These are families of New Zealand citizens and everything else that we are talking about here and it has a ripple effect on people’s lives.”

Azizi wants New Zealand and other governments around the world to engage in dialogue with the Taliban, so that basic human rights are respected.

” They need to make sure that just because someone was doing their duty previously under the Afghan government, they shouldn’t be killed. It is necessary to defend basic human rights. ”

He said the government needs to broaden the criteria to allow more people to enter New Zealand.

“Those whose lives are in danger.”

Azizi said the government must act fast.

“It’s not the usual time where they can just take their time and go for 100 points and think about it. Action must be taken and it must be taken quickly. ”

Community Law is seeking a judicial review of the visa process.

Executive Director Sue Moroney said that while she was unable to obtain an interim injunction at the time the crisis erupted, she is awaiting the substantive hearing in November and has now added more legal actions to be considered in the review.

” The Crown has said that there is another temporary visa that these people should and could apply for. So we have gone through that process and almost all of them were rejected, also those visas. They are called critical purpose visitor visas. And now we have added a new legal challenge to the Judicial Review to challenge the narrow criteria that apply to humanitarian grounds for those visas. ”

Moroney said it is not consistent with immigration instructions, international law or the Bill of Rights.

He said they are challenging seven legal grounds in the Judicial Review.

” The government illegally suspended the processing of refugee family reunification visas. Second, we are now questioning how narrow the criteria were being applied to temporary visas and also challenging the government’s decision that resettlement is limited to the immediate family of those assisting the New Zealand Defense Forces as being too restricted. ”

Sue Moroney said it also includes failing to recognize the danger to the lives of family members in general.

The Judicial Review will take place in Wellington Superior Court on November 3-4.

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