Afghanistan: Interpreter who worked with NZ Defence Force says siblings left behind to die at hands of Taliban

An interpreter whose family worked with the New Zealand Defence Force in Afghanistan says it's unfair his three siblings have been left behind to die at the hands of the Taliban.

Cabinet announced last Monday New Zealanders and Afghan allies would be evacuated from Afghanistan. 

"It's a very challenging environment," Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said. "We are working with our partners."

But that’s cold comfort for former interpreter Diamond Kazimi - who thus far is in the dark about the fate of his brother and two sisters in Kabul. His siblings, who also helped New Zealand in the war effort, have been in the queue for visas to get out since 2017. 

They feel let down.

"It'd be really good if we could prioritise those who are in need and at real risk of being killed," Kazimi said.

NZDF troops evacuate citizens from Afghanistan.
NZDF troops evacuate citizens from Afghanistan. Photo credit: Defence Public Affairs

The path out of Afghanistan's Kabul airport to freedom still resembles a cattle chute, but up to 50 New Zealand residents have made it out alive. Others without visas lied to Australian soldiers just to get on their plane, Newshub has been told.

Among those Afghan Kiwis evacuated on that Royal Australian Air Force flight to the UAE and onto a commercial plane home were two families - one with 16 members, the other 11.

They're now in managed isolation.

Left behind and fearing for their life were 37 labourers, drivers and interpreters - like Basir Ahmad who helped our Defence Force during the war.

An RNZAF C130 landed in Kabul today and safely evacuated a number of New Zealanders and Australians.
Photo credit: Defence Public Affairs

The Taliban, he says, are going door to door.

"They have been evacuated and we have been left behind," he told Newshub. "We were told we would be evacuated with NZ citizens but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore."

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the current focus was helping New Zealand citizens, residents, and Afghan nationals who meet the criteria and their families.

The situation was an "urgent humanitarian effort", he said.

"Where Afghan nationals are able to provide evidence of their relationship with New Zealand operations, and can make their way to the international humanitarian teams on the ground in Kabul, they will be helped as much as possible - appreciating that conditions are difficult and changeable."

New Zealand has now arrived with its C-130 plane. And the clock is ticking - the Taliban on Tuesday confirming the August 31 deadline for evacuating won't be extended.

"It will create mistrust between us… if they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke [a] reaction," Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said.

Two of Kabul airport's three gates are under Taliban control. Those leaving this fragile land must hurdle the dead, the injured and the scared.

Pictures supplied to Newshub on Tuesday evening show our 80 NZDF personnel now on the ground - and they have their work cut out.