Afghanistan Crisis Requires Wider Response from New Zealand

MEDIA RELEASE: August 18, 2021

The Government must evacuate a wider group of those stranded in Afghanistan with connections to New Zealand to save lives, says Community Law Centres O Aotearoa (CLCA).

Community Law Centres have more than 25 clients, whose families don’t meet the narrow criteria established for immediate evacuation but are in extreme danger as the US withdraws from Afghanistan and the Taliban take control.
“Community Law has been seeking border exemptions for clients facing safety risks due to the worsening situation in Afghanistan with Immigration NZ and the Associate Immigration Minister for months now, but there has been no change in policy while the crisis has deepened,” says CLCA CEO, Sue Moroney. “New Zealand is lagging behind other countries, like the UK, in responding to the worsening crisis on humanitarian grounds.”

“Just last week, one family who were granted NZ residence before the border closed, were declined their third request for a border exemption despite being targeted by the Taliban due to their family connection to a NZ interpreter. They are stranded in a life-threatening situation and every hour counts when your life is in danger.”
In addition, INZ’s policies around partnership has meant that many Community Law clients have not been able to get visas or border exemptions for their spouses and children stranded in Afghanistan. “These women and children do not have a male figure in their household, they are incredibly vulnerable to forced marriage and abuse,” says Sue.
Community Law is pursuing legal options to ensure the Government does what is right.

“We urge the Government to respond. Our clients and their families are desperate. The Government’s inaction is forcing us to rely on the courts to enforce New Zealand’s international human rights obligations. We prefer to see a humanitarian response from our Government that other Western countries have already implemented.”


Media contacts:
Sue Moroney, CEO Community Law: 027 422-7831
NB: We have clients who will agree to speak to Media about their story.

Twenty-four Community Law Centres work out of over 140 locations across New Zealand to provide free legal help and advice to those who are unable to pay for a private lawyer or who do not have access to legal aid. This advice covers all aspects of New Zealand’s legal system, including family law, employment issues, housing problems, consumer advice and criminal law. As well as around 170 staff, Community Law’s services are boosted by over 1,200 volunteer lawyers who run clinics and deliver free advice and assistance.

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