National spokesperson for Counter-Terrorism Mark Mitchell has today launched a petition urging the Government to bring Afghan nationals that supported the New Zealand Defence Force during their deployment to Afghanistan safely home to New Zealand.
“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.
“With the withdrawal of the coalition in Afghanistan, 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.
“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.
“I am working with a dedicated network of Kiwis and volunteers, some of whom are 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, phonecalls and letters, to which almost no response has been received. 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.”
The petition can be found here.
Note: Mark Mitchell is National’s Spokesperson for Counter Terrorism as well as former Defence Minister. Prior to entering Parliament, he worked in Iraq helping to establish a security and risk management programme for the interim Government. He went on to establish a security and risk management company focused on supply chain security, protecting critical infrastructure like air and sea ports, as well as hostage rescue and recovery in the Middle East.
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