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Afghan Kiwis plea to bring families to NZ

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The last time Ali heard from his brother was a voicemail he left him over the weekend.

He was running for the mountains.

"It was two days ago, just before Bamyan Province was about to be [taken] by Taliban. The network connection was not good.

"My brother did not manage to speak, all he did was he left a voicemail and told me they were running for the mountains to hide... pray for us."

On Sunday, the Taliban swept into the capital Kabul unopposed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. New Zealand is among Western countries scrambling to help their citizens leave the country, as well as at-risk Afghan nationals who have helped state agencies.

Ali - not his real name - is an interpreter who worked in Afghanistan for the New Zealand government, and now lives in New Zealand.

He is petrified if his identity is exposed, saying it would put his family at an even greater risk.

"I'm desperate, I'm extremely worried [about] what will happen to them. I cannot forgive myself that my family would be responsible to answering Taliban questions only because they had a family member who had worked for the New Zealand government."

Ali was granted residency for his work with the government, but that offer did not extend to his siblings and parents.

He wants the government to broaden its offer to help, calling it an urgent case of life and death.

"When you first joined up to work for the New Zealand government back in Afghanistan we were not expecting for this to happen... we were hoping for a new future.

"[But] things didn't go well and here we are, and we need support. Local Afghans do not deserve this, our families do not deserve this."

Also pleading for help is Assadullah Nazari, one of the so-called 'Tampa Boys' rescued from a sinking fishing boat off the coast of Australia and subsequently accepted as refugees by New Zealand.

Two of his brothers were killed by the Taliban when he was a teenager.

Nazari now lives in Auckland and said the Hazara and Shia people here fear for their friends and family as those minority groups in Afghanistan are in the most danger.

"They're worried, they don't go out, they don't do much. They're trying to keep safe and leave the house as least as possible because Hazara people will be targeted and killed."

Nazari was granted entry into the country by then Prime Minister Helen Clark, and urged the government to once again be compassionate to those in need, even if they did not have a New Zealand connection.

"Same thing as they did back in 2001 when they accepted us... they can do that again."

Khairullah Azizi was not sure when he would see his wife.

He had been trying to get a visa for her for the past year and was becoming increasingly desperate.

"I'm definitely worried, I was worried before they took control and it's worse now than before.

"I'm hoping she's all right. I called her and she was still all right but only time will tell about what is really going to happen."

Azizi, who was part of the Afghan Association of New Zealand, says it would help in any way it can, and urges anyone needing support to make contact.

-RNZ.- Emma Hatton.

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It's hard.

Posted on 17-08-2021 18:23 | By morepork

Humanity and compassion would suggest we do more; but we are a small nation without vast resources available for this kind of help and there is still fear and suspicion on the part of many when it comes to devout Islamists. I guess we need to get to know the people who are here already, better. It will take time. But the people in Afghanistan don’t have time. Perhaps our charities and Church Groups can support Muslim groups here and get behind them. Kiwis are open minded and generally take people as they find them. If there is no sign of Islamic fundamentalism or agitation, if everybody practices their religion in peace without harming others, there will be no problem. In time , the population will come to realize there is no threat from Muslim communities and we might actually benefit from the increase in our diversification.