Defence Force to be deployed in Afghanistan to evacuate Kiwis, Afghan allies after Taliban takeover

Defence Force to be deployed in Afghanistan to evacuate Kiwis, Afghan allies after Taliban takeover
Photo credit: Getty Images

New Zealand is sending in the Defence Force to help dozens of Kiwis and Afghan allies stranded in Afghanistan escape following the Taliban's rapid takeover of capital city Kabul.

At her post-Cabinet press conference from the Beehive on Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government was aware of 53 Kiwis who are still there and seeking to get out, with plans now underway to repatriate them.

Chief of Defence Air Marshall Kevin Short said under the current plan, a C-130 Hercules aircraft and roughly 40 Defence Force personnel dispatched in Afghanistan for about a month.

In the press conference, Ardern also responded to political pressure to repatriate Afghan nationals who had assisted the Defence Force in the past, and faced a heightened security risk as a result.

The Government knows of about 37 such Afghan allies, who Ardern says will be supported in evacuating and have their visas here expedited. They will need to have their identities verified and will be processed in a third country.

"It is not an easy endeavour but we believe we have a responsibility to that small number of people who supported us, to support them," Ardern said.

Air Marshall Short said a number of Afghan nationals had already been in contact with New Zealand officials about the possibility of an evacuation.

"The process will be turn up, identify the individual as much as we can, and allow them to depart. It won't necessarily just be on a New Zealand aircraft."

Ardern urged the Taliban to let people flee Afghanistan safely.

"I would just again implore those who made these moves in recent days to acknowledge what the international community has called for - human rights and the safety of people."

New Zealand will coordinate its repatriation efforts with Australia, though Air Marshall Short said there may be times when the Defence Force launches its own operations.