The number of refugees looking to relocate in New Zealand is growing with the chaos that now descends upon Afghanistan. This is after American forces officially left the country after 20 years on August 31.
Evacuees are flocking the Kabul airport in Afghanistan carrying their visas. They struggle through increasing crowds that grow with increasing panic because of the risk of getting caught in the crossfire near the airport. Official reports have said that almost 20 people have already died within the area either from being hit by stray bullets or being victims of stampede.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged the gravity of the situation but stated that they will only be able to evacuate a limited number of people. This is applicable even for those that have an emergency visa en route to New Zealand. The premise lacks proper crowd control because of the active resistance from the Taliban soldiers, who were even reported beating people in the crowds to prevent them from leaving.
There are also no proper instructions and logistics behind the evacuation. There is no current proper way for clarifying the times for the cut-off for entry, the exact gates that they would need to go to, and meeting points for evacuation. Reports also state that there have been active attempts by Taliban patrols to provide false information to evacuees such as requiring a green card or unnecessary documents to delay evacuation.
On August 23, the first flight for evacuees en route to New Zealand arrived. However, the exact numbers behind this were unclear. Citing reasons of privacy and the security of the people, an official tally of rescued evacuees was not given. A media source revealed there are currently more than 30 interpreters officially employed under the New Zealand government who are left terrified with the thought of being stranded in Afghanistan. None of them have been rescued so far, and with the lack of official numbers, many are unsure of their fate.
The Taliban has declared their victory by walking across the runway of the Kabul airport on Tuesday. Zabihullah Mujahid, who serves as their official spokesperson, stated that the victory was long overdue.
Because of this, most refugees would simply have to rely on diplomatic pressure and talks to have a chance at leaving the country.
Ardern clarifies that they are still actively attempting to help those with visas to New Zealand. With the recent withdrawal of forces in Afghanistan, their chances of returning seem even bleaker.