Afghan interpreters to be given asylum in NZ

By Kate Shuttleworth

New Zealand soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan. Photo / Patrick Gower
New Zealand soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan. Photo / Patrick Gower

Up to 26 Afghan interpreters will be given asylum in New Zealand when Kiwi troops withdraw from Bamiyan next April.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said Cabinet agreed on Monday to offer the interpreters a resettlement package in New Zealand.

The details will be released next week when Dr Coleman returns from a visit to the Middle East.

The interpreters, working with the Provincial Reconstruction Team, are being notified of their packages.

Including the interpreters' families, 75 Afghans would come to New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key said earlier this month he was sympathetic to Afghan interpreters working with Kiwi troops who say their lives will be in danger.

The interpreters have said their work over a long period has made their identities known to insurgents, putting them at risk after New Zealand leaves the region.

Mr Key said the interpreters had made "a sound case'' to the New Zealand Government.

"I'm sympathetic to what they're saying. They've helped New Zealand. We want to make sure that they are safe as best we can, but we just need to assess the risks, whether the risks are real and genuine to them.''

Labour leader David Shearer called for the interpreters to be allowed to resettle in New Zealand.

"We cannot abandon these people. They have risked their lives working with our soldiers on the ground. We have a duty to help them,'' he said.

- APNZ

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