Government needs to do more to help injured Afghan interpreter

2018-11-25 00:31:39

The Government has been accused of dragging its heels in its response to a former defence interpreter who was badly injured while returning to Afghanistan to bring his bride back to New Zealand.

Abdul Kazimi has a brain haemorrhage and is on life support after his vehicle was involved what his brothers believe was a "suspicious attack" on November 11.

Both his family, and National Party defence spokesman Mark Mitchell, believe the government should be doing more to help Abdul Kazimi and his wife get home safely.

"The NZ government has made the whole process of dealing with my brother's care difficult," eldest brother Ezmarai Kazimi, who is in Afghanistan, said.

"Even though he is in a critical condition and death is still a real possibility, all I got was bureaucracy when I tried to deal with this issue."

Ezmarai is seeking a visa for New Zealand so that he can accompany his brother home, given he is in a coma.

Abdul, 27, came to New Zealand in 2014 and was decorated for service with the NZ Defence Force - along with brother Diamond Kazimi. They both have New Zealand residency.

Abdul lived in Hamilton and Auckland and had returned to Afghanistan to bring his fiance to New Zealand after Immigration NZ had previously flagged issues with granting a visa to his wife.

He hoped to spend six months living with his fiancee, to satisfy immigration requirements, before bringing her home with him.

Confounding Ezmarai's upset was the fact that Immigration NZ sent an email on November 16 seeking to interview his brother and his new wife about her application.

"We told them he is in coma on 12 November but they still want to interview him...this shows a real misunderstanding of the case by immigration."

Mitchell learned of Abdul's situation after being contacted by his family on November 15.

Over the next 24 hours, Mitchell sought advice from fellow National MP, and former immigration minister Michael Woodhouse before going directly to Defence Minister Ron Mark.

"I felt they needed some assistance on the ground with what they are dealing with and the NZDF are the only ones with a footprint in Afghanistan at the moment."

Woodhouse described the case as "concerning" and that on the face of it, Abdul should not have been forced to return to Afghanistan to prove the authenticity of the relationship with his wife.

Mitchell said it took three days before he received a response from Mark, which he calls "completely unacceptable".

"They have brushed it aside very quickly and conveniently without looking at what the right thing to do."

Mitchell said he was then briefed on the Government's response by the Prime Minister's chief of staff on November 23.

"It became pretty apparent to me very early on that they haven't done much," he said.

"They should have been some consulate assistance provided and if we don't have consulate assistance on the ground in Afghanistan then they should have worked through the Australians and asked them for assistance.

"These guys have been interpreters for the New Zealand defence Force in Afghanistan. They have taken a lot of risk and we have brought them back to New Zealand, which is the right thing to do."

Ezmarai said his brother gave immigration comprehensive evidence of the threat if he returned to Afghanistan.

"In this instance the government ignored everything that was put before them and now what we have is a situation where my family's whole life has been thrown into disaster.

"My brother is a New Zealand resident but he was treated like a second class citizen by bureaucrats that refused to properly assess the risk.

"A lot of things could have been done to help with his situation."

A spokesman for Ron Mark said the minister was overseas and wouldn't return until November 26 so could not comment on the case.

A spokeswoman for Associate Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi said the minister does not comment on individual cases. Doing so without all facts and careful consideration was inappropriate.

The Government advisory for New Zealanders looking to travel to Afghanistan was reiterated.

"Do not go. This is both because it is a dangerous war zone and because there is no support available on the ground."

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said their position that they could not help foreign nationals in their own countries had not changed.

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