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NZ likely to help fleeing Afghans at high risk

Ōtautahi – A number of countries helped Afghans escape from the change of power in their own country.

Those managing to leave are the latest additions to the world’s third-largest displaced population, according to the World Economic Forum.

Most Afghan refugees have historically departed for neighbouring countries.

The rapid collapse of Afghan government forces and the Taliban’s seizure of power will produce shockwaves around the world.

The dramatic end of the Afghanistan mission will inevitably raise the question of future military interventions.

Afghans have left their country in large numbers for the last four decades, fleeing a communist coup, a destabilising Soviet invasion that led to the Taliban’s repressive theocracy, and the tumult that followed.

The result is the third-largest displaced population in the world.

Now, the collapse of Afghanistan’s western-backed government, abrupt pull-out of US troops, and return to power of the Taliban have spurred more Afghans to seek a way out – braving potentially deadly attacks in the process.

Dozens of countries have taken in local Afghans. It seems that the international community is taking considerable steps in assisting their Afghan partners.

Countries such as the US, the UK, Canada and Australia have announced their commitments in terms of the number of refugees that they will be accepting from Afghanistan, however New Zealand has not yet confirmed numbers at this stage.

South Island spokesperson for the Afghan Association of NZ, University of Canterbury postgraduate and former Afghan refugee Hedayat Najib says he fully understands that considering the size of New Zealand, the commitment may not be as large as other nations.

“In New Zealand we have always been on the right side of helping countries in need. These decision have put us on the map of the world.

“We were the first country to allow women to vote; we finally stood against apartheid, we became nuclear-free and assisted our international partners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Afghan-Kiwis are hopeful the government will open our doors to those Afghans at high risk. We want our Afghan-Kiwi to live in peace.

“We are more than happy to help relatives settle in New Zealand, provide them with pastoral care, and other types of assistance upon their arrival. New Zealanders can help here. Kiwis are generous and we are confident we will the support in this historic humanitarian initiative.

The UK has pledged to welcome 20,000 Afghan refugees, Australia has made room for 3000 and Tajikistan, already home to a sizeable Afghan refugee population, has committed to taking in 100,000 more.

About 20,000 Afghans are believed to be awaiting a US visa designated for people who helped the American military or diplomats. The US has pledged to resettle up to 50,000 Afghans.

About 600,000 Afghans returned or were deported from Pakistan and Iran during the first half of this year alone, according to the UN Refugee Agency. NZ likely to help fleeing Afghans at high risk

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