More Afghan interpreters ask for asylum
Wednesday 16 Jan 2013 10:42 a.m.
Bamiyan in Afghanistan (Reuters)
A group of former Afghan interpreters who missed out on the Government's asylum deal have made a plea to MPs to reconsider their cases.
The Government last month finalised an offer to resettle 31 current and former Afghan workers who have helped New Zealand troops in Bamyan, and their families, in New Zealand.
It would cover up to 116 people, at a total cost of $8.95 million.
The offer, first announced in October, was expanded after former interpreters voiced fears they could be killed by the Taliban when the Provincial Reconstruction Team withdraws in April.
But on Tuesday night, a number of MPs received a letter purporting to be from a further five interpreters who want to come to New Zealand, but missed out on the Government's offer.
The letter, posted online by Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway, says the group worked with the NZDF "in the early days of their deployments in Afghanistan", as interpreters and cultural advisers.
The interpreters say they accompanied NZDF troops around Bamyan and outside the province, and to meetings with government officials, Taliban, clerics and locals.
"As most of these meetings were held in public or in contentious areas of the province, it has exposed us as a person working for the coalition forces. We have also appeared in the media as allies of NZDF," the letter says.
The group say they fear they and their families will be killed when troops withdraw.
"We are sure they would not let us go just because we are former interpreters and no longer work with coalition forces. We will be dealt equally with current ones."
Mr Lees-Galloway said if there are only five interpreters remaining, the government should act swiftly to grant them and their families asylum in New Zealand.
"There is no logical justification for denying these former interpreters when all others have had a satisfactory outcome. Their situation is no different to the others."