TODAY |

Mahuta: 'We will do the best we can, as soon as we can' for Kiwis in Afghanistan

Nanaia Mahuta says while the New Zealand Defence Force managed to get hundreds of New Zealanders out of Kabul under very difficult circumstances, “it is true to say there are a number in Afghanistan who we were unable to bring back”.

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More than 700 people eligible to be in New Zealand are still stuck in Afghanistan. Source: Q+A

Documents seen by Q+A suggest that over 700 people who are eligible to come to Aotearoa are still in Afghanistan or neighbouring countries, and many others continue to apply to seek refuge here.

Mahuta told Jack Tame “we’re critically aware that there are people who remain in Afghanistan who are able to come to New Zealand, but in a very challenging situation.

"So we understand the urgency, but the practicality of being able to respond requires us to work with allied partners.”

She argues that no one expected Kabul to come under Taliban control so quickly.

“I don’t think there was any sense that the fall of Kabul would happen as soon as it had” and that the situation on the ground is “very complex” with no commercial flights out, the airport not open, and no guarantee of safe passage.

The Foreign Minister says that while New Zealand has yet to recognise the Taliban as the official leadership of Afghanistan “that hasn’t eliminated our ability to work with allied partners to ensure that we’re calling on the Taliban for safe passage.”

“We will do the best we can, as soon as we can, based on good information and the ability to find a pathway forward.”