Fall of Afghanistan: Petition launched to bring Afghan nationals who supported Kiwi war effort to New Zealand

A new petition has been launched urging the Government to save Afghan nationals who supported Kiwi troops and now face “systematic murder and execution”.

National Party spokesman for counter-terrorism Mark Mitchell is behind the new petition, saying it is “not good enough that the Government has abdicated its responsibility to our international partners, abandoning our people and expecting Australia and others to pick up the slack”.

“The Afghans that worked alongside our Kiwi mission in Afghanistan took the risk to do so because they believed in us and wanted a country with a strong democracy that was safe and secure for their children to grow up in,” Mitchell says.

It comes after ex-NZDF personnel launched their own petition to get Afghan nationals who worked with them during the 20-year deployment to the country, which has already received more than $40,000 in donations.

The Government says it has been working on “phase two” evacuation plans after mercy missions were cut short in late August after two deadly suicide attacks outside Hamid Karzai International Airport at the country’s capital, Kabul.

There are around 365 people with links to New Zealand who are still in Afghanistan, including former NZDF interpreters already granted visas to leave, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mfat) says the situation remains “highly volatile and dangerous” and the threat of a terrorist attack “very high”.

The country quickly fell back into the hands of the Taliban after New Zealand, the US, and other Nato allies left the country earlier this year after two decades of war.

With the withdrawal of the coalition forces, former Minister of Defence Mitchell says Afghans now face a Taliban regime with a history of violent human rights abuses, including the “systematic murder and execution of Afghans who don’t adhere to their strict religious or cultural ideology”.

“They are facing a serious humanitarian crisis fuelled by the collapse of the Afghan economy, food scarcity and the onset of a harsh Afghan winter,” says Mitchell who had 10 years working in the Middle East, including Iraq, with his own private security and risk management company which specialised in getting people out of conflict zones.

“The Taliban has already started searching and destroying the houses of people holding New Zealand visas. Many are now hiding in overcrowded conditions.

“As the Taliban quickly took control of Afghanistan, I contacted the Ministers of both Defence and Foreign Affairs to offer behind the scenes assistance with a plan to extract our people.”

Mitchell has been working with a “dedicated network of Kiwis and volunteers”, including former senior NZDF officers who have been on multiple deployments to Afghanistan and have deep experience, networks and relationships in Afghanistan.

“There have been multiple attempts to engage with the Government via email, phone calls and letters, to which almost no response has been received,” Mitchell says.

“Other countries, agencies, non-government organisations and private sector companies are proactively moving their people out of Afghanistan. Our people are still hiding and waiting for help with very little money or food.

“They were brave and took a risk to support us, believing that the Taliban regime would never return. They are now in danger and need our help.

“That is why today, National is launching a petition urging the Government to immediately reinstate resettlement support for eligible Afghans to come to New Zealand, and provide advice and support to facilitate the safe travel of visa holding Afghans trying to leave Afghanistan.

“As time goes on, the risks increase and we cannot afford to delay any longer.”

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