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‘Give us some hope’ – Former NZDF government spokesman

An Afghan translator working for the New Zealand Defense Force says his 36 comrades, who were promised a seat on the evacuation flight, now feel hopeless after the government withdrew its troops due to security threats. Have been

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

NZDF evacuation flight in Kabul.
Image: Provided / New Zealand Defense Force.

Basir Ahmed worked for the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and kept in touch with the government to help others secure visas and leave.

More than 500 Afghans arriving in New Zealand have been left to fend for themselves after a bomb blast at Kabul airport following the cancellation of further evacuation flights by the New Zealand Defense Force.

Ahmed said he understands the security reasons, but learning that there would be no more flights was disastrous.

“Pretend you’re on an island and there are a lot of snakes and things like that … and there’s a flight that will save you.

“But it just leaves, and the only thing left is that you are very disappointed. You are disappointed. We were all disappointed.”

He said there had been a delay in securing some of the team’s visas, and that the day they were all finalized was the day of the explosion.

He said that if New Zealand officials had rushed to finalize the visas, his group would have been allowed to board one of the earlier planes.

“I would call every day and talk to MFAT officials about this visa processing time. I said if you take action. [normally] It’s not going to happen on time.

“But they did not listen to me and the security situation deteriorated and now all of a sudden they have left Afghanistan.”

Ahmed had left home and stayed in a hotel for two weeks. That time will soon be over and he did not know what to do next.

“Some members of our group, they were staying in a hotel, they finished everything.

“And they said, ‘Well, we’ll be evicted and … that’s enough for now, but now everything is changing.’

He said that he would continue to contact the MFAT but the situation was becoming more and more hopeless.

“They say they’re working on a project, but we don’t know what it means to work on a project. Is it an urgent project? How long does it take?”

“Members of our group, they have lost everything, they have no money, their shelter is not in good condition … our financial condition is zero. It is all bad.

Other members of the group are becoming increasingly frustrated, he said.

“I get a lot of phone calls. They call me. Do you have any news? What’s the plan? When will we be fired … All the questions I don’t have the answers to.”

“I have six calls when I’m just talking to you.”

He said that although New Zealand officials were no longer on the ground, they might be able to enlist the help of other Western forces in Afghanistan.

“So if they can talk to these guys there, we can get them out. You know, maybe today.”

“If there is a way, if there is an immediate way for the government, help us, give us some hope. You know, right now we are very hopeless.”

He said the Taliban were actively searching for those who had helped New Zealand and that the group was in grave danger.

The government has said it will not stop helping people stranded in Afghanistan, but it was not clear what its plans were.

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