Afghan interpreters start anew in New Zealand

Thirty Afghan interpreters have arrived in their new home of New Zealand but fear for the safety of their colleagues whom the Government did not bring back.

A total of 94 Afghan men, women and children arrived at Whenuapai Air Force base in Auckland yesterday after interpreters who worked with New Zealand forces and their immediate families were offered relocation packages by the Government.

But only those who had worked with the New Zealand troops after December 2010 were eligible.

The interpreters were grateful for the opportunity to start a new life in New Zealand but appealed to the Government to extend the offer to their colleagues still in Afghanistan.

“We have left fellow interpreters that have been missed by a couple of months and they might be in danger. So I would like to ask the New Zealand Government if possible try to bring them to New Zealand as well,” said Parmiz Hakimi, 28.

There would be great risk to interpreters who worked with coalition forces without the support of New Zealand troops who pull out this month, one interpreter said.

“The Taliban and anti-government forces wouldn’t let us be alive if we remained in Afghanistan,” said Gulnazim Kazimi, 24.

But Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said those interpreters left in Afghanistan did not face sufficient danger to warrant their resettlement.

“The police and the national director of security are capable enough to deal with those situations and the insurgents that are still there,” he said.

The Defence Force was continuing to monitor the situation in Bamiyan province.

The interpreters held a special position because their work with the coalition forces in Afghanistan often made them known to the “bad guys”. This made them vulnerable and warranted the relocation offer, General Jones said.

The interpreters were equally grateful to New Zealand for its work in Afghanistan, Mr Hakimi said

The opportunity for his children to grow up in New Zealand was the most exciting part of the relocation, he said. He has daughters, aged, 5, 3 and 3 months.

“We were a little bit sad leaving our family and friends in Afghanistan, but our children will have a great future. They will not be worried about getting blown up by suicide bombers,” he said.

The interpreters had played a vital role in New Zealand’s presence in Afghanistan, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said.

The new arrivals will spend eight weeks at the Mangere Refugee Centre, where they will learn about life in New Zealand. They will then be moved to Hamilton and Palmerston North, where they will be supported by the Red Cross.

Source: The Dominio Post (via Stuff)

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