Finance

Withdrawal from Afghanistan: The Cabinet is working on the ‘second phase’

The cabinet is seeking a second phase withdrawal from Afghanistan, and its effects will reset in New Zealand.

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Foreign Minister Nania Mahota.
Image: RNZ / Samuel Realstone

Speaking to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade this morning, Foreign Minister Nania Mahota said that for New Zealand and its international partners, it would be the second step in the Taliban’s response to the occupation of Afghanistan.

He said that there is a second phase for these countries and also for New Zealand. “I would say that this is another piece of advice that the cabinet has asked me for [Immigration Minister Kris] Fafoi in terms of a point of view. “

“The Cabinet has asked for more information on the second phase of the response to Afghanistan … Our first priority was in the initial set of people who met the August 16 criteria. This has been our first commitment.”

When questioned by Green MP Gulraiz Gharman, Mahouta said he was not in a position at the moment to expand the criteria for allowing people in New Zealand following a cabinet decision on August 16.

Mahota said New Zealand’s approach to refugee resettlement was in line with the UN Human Rights Commission’s refugee resettlement program and was true.

No promises on broad eligibility criteria, change in refugee quota.

Gahraman said Australia, Britain and Canada had pledged to repatriate a certain number of refugees from Afghanistan, and asked if New Zealand would consider it in the future.

Canada has pledged to accept 20,000 refugees, the UK 20,000 and Australia 3,000.

Mahota said he would join the board on what other countries were doing, but the advice on the occasion was what the difficulties of the second phase evacuation would be, and the impact of resettlement on New Zealand.

“Our work is not over. We know that there are many New Zealand citizens and permanent residents living in Afghanistan.

At its peak, the MFAT had 171 staff to handle all government response to Afghanistan, staff were added to shifts, and officials provided more consular assistance abroad.

He said New Zealand’s efforts would now need to co-operate with international partners.

“It’s a very complex situation on the ground. We’re very aware that the safety of getting people to evacuation is uncertain at the moment.”

He said the number of people seeking help from New Zealand could change if eligibility standards were changed.

“It simply came to our notice then.

Chris Seed, chief executive and secretary of the State Department and Commerce, said he suspects there are more than 300 people in Afghanistan who are eligible to come to New Zealand, including citizens, families and those who have already received visas.

He said the ministry would set up an online portal where visa holders could register their details, and he was aware of some people who had fled across the border who might be eligible.

We keep talking to the countries of the region about the extent to which they will allow people to travel across their borders.

He said there were some who fled to other neighboring countries, and at least three families managed to go to Africa and Europe commercially.

‘There was no list’

National Foreign Affairs spokesman Gary Brownlee said he appreciated the NZDF’s tremendous efforts, but he knew at least 43 families who were previously unknown to New Zealand organizations who could not be evacuated.

“None of them came out … why don’t the ministries have a list of people who helped,” he asked.

Over a decade, more than ڈالر 100 million has been spent in Bamiyan on a number of projects, in several areas, with multiple contractors and several third parties, Seed said.

“Clearly the idea that we would collect and compile lists of everyone who came in contact with any of the projects, it wasn’t just the way we worked and it wasn’t workable.

“Those under either previous standards or those approved by the cabinet on August 16 – there was no list we could go to.”

Mahota said the broader evacuation and resettlement standards offered by the government have also led to a sharp increase in the number of people seeking to flee New Zealand.

Chief of Defense Force Kevin Short said that under the 2012 standard, interpreters were offered resettlement or three years’ salary where they wanted to go.

“There were choices for this particular group … they were on patrol in uniform with our men and women.”

He said other staff working locally, including engineers, mechanics, cooks and cleaners, were not part of the original offer but were added to a broader standard in August and were the ones who were now coming forward.

Seed said authorities had only four or five days to decide whether they met the new standards.

Evacuators: Number.

On August 11, 11 people were registered in Afghanistan on the ministry’s Safe Travel website, but two weeks later the number rose to 767, Seed said.

“There are reasons why people can list on the website or not, including those who lived in Afghanistan and considered it their permanent home,” he said. People who were happy with their situation until the crisis escalated and some people who did not have the right to come to New Zealand.

“The numbers I have, the total number of possible consular cases was 737, including a group of New Zealand citizens and permanent resident holders, a round number of about 200. The rest, then, [was] Contains various other visa holders.

“We think we know that 372 have left Afghanistan …

“Just because he was on the consular list doesn’t mean he has to leave Afghanistan,” he said.

Mahota also said the numbers could change because some of those who identified themselves had yet to be verified, some had fled to other countries, and more could be created as standards change.

Stains on our work in Afghanistan

Speaking in Parliament, National Party leader Judith Collins said the fact that many Afghan allies have been left behind is a matter of grave concern.

“Afghanistan is experiencing a historic humanitarian crisis, and it’s about the government seemingly caught unprepared. It’s a stain on our work in Afghanistan,” he said.

Collins noted that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had indicated in February this year that New Zealand would withdraw its forces from the country, and that Fafui had reportedly rejected the requests of those who had recently Until May, New Zealand’s efforts were supported.

“The people left behind can be innocent drivers, laborers, spokespersons, cleaners, and cooks to whom we owe,” Collins said. “Their lives are now in danger, but the government has not explained why those requests were rejected.”

House Speaker Trevor Mallard rejected Collins’ request for an immediate discussion on evacuation and housing for Afghan allies, saying there was room for questioning by ministers following ministerial statements.

Defense Secretary Penny Hanare – who was also on the select committee – would not comment when Collins asked how many Afghans supporting the defense force had been evacuated.

“The numbers that were taken out of Kabul airport are still being processed,” he said. “A large number of evacuees are still being processed, and the figures will be clear as to who was evacuated. From there, we will have a better idea of ​​who was left behind.”

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