NZ Government to meet, discuss response to 'gravely concerning' Afghanistan crisis

The New Zealand Government is expected to meet on Monday to discuss its response to the escalating crisis in Afghanistan.

It comes after Taliban insurgents entered the Afghanistan capital Kabul on Sunday as the US evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.

Newshub reported on Sunday that dozens of Afghan interpreters and their families - who helped the New Zealand war effort in Afghanistan - had put their faith in the NZ Government to help them out of what they described as a hopeless situation. 

International law professor Al Gillespie, from the University of Waikato, says the situation is dire.

"If you're a foreign citizen in Afghanistan right now, you should get out and Governments should assist them getting out," he told Newshub.

Gillespie said the human rights situation in the country could get worse.

"No one expects the human rights situation to improve. Whether they will return to their position of the mid-1990s, is unknown, but quite possible. 

"It's a tragic history. The British got beaten there in the 19th century, the Russians in the 20th and the Americans, in the 21st."

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Newshub as of midday on Sunday, 17 New Zealand citizens currently in Afghanistan were on its SafeTravel register.

"There are no New Zealand Government officials based in Afghanistan," the spokesperson said in a statement. "We are providing consular assistance to a small number of New Zealanders. For privacy reasons, we will not be releasing any details about those people.

"We are exploring options to help New Zealanders who wish to leave including helping secure seats on any available commercial flights."

Any New Zealander in Afghanistan is urged to register with SafeTravel, the spokesperson said.

"The New Zealand Government is gravely concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and is in close contact with other governments with nationals also trying to leave."

NZ Government to meet, discuss response to 'gravely concerning' Afghanistan crisis
Photo credit: Getty Images

US President Joe Biden at the weekend authorised the deployment of 5000 United States troops to help evacuate citizens and ensure an "orderly and safe" drawdown of military personnel. The President has stuck to a plan, initiated by Donald Trump, to end the US military mission in Afghanistan by August 31.

"An endless American presence in the middle of another country's civil conflict was not acceptable to me," Biden said on Saturday.