Pregnant Kiwi journalist Charlotte Bellis says she hopes her situation can "move the dial" on the way New Zealand manages MIQ.
The former Al Jazeera journalist shared her story in the Herald over the weekend, detailing her rejection from an MIQ allocation in spite of expecting a child in Afghanistan – a place where unmarried pregnant women can face prison time.
Speaking to Jono and Ben on The Hits this morning, Bellis said people cannot understand the difficulty of being locked out by your own country until in the situation themselves.
"I hope this moves the dial towards a more logic-based, empathy-based approach for the thousands of Kiwis who are abroad and would love to come back to the homeland.
"You see it from the outside and go 'yeah, that sucks for that person' and 'yeah, that's an awful situation that they can't get home'.
"But it's not until you're actually in it that you realise it just doesn't make sense."
When asked what message she would give to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Bellis said just to "look at the bigger picture".
"What would she do if she was me, and where does she expect me to give birth? That is the crux of it."
Bellis is expecting a daughter in May with her partner, who is a New York Times photographer in Kabul, and faces giving birth in Afghanistan.
They had been planning to return in late February, when borders were scheduled to reopen for New Zealand citizens – a date which has been postponed indefinitely due to Omicron.
It is illegal to be pregnant and unmarried in Afghanistan, which has forced Bellis to ask senior Taliban contacts if she would be safe there.
"Technically it's illegal here also but they said 'you're foreigners, what you do is between you … and frankly, we're really happy for you, congratulations.'
"They said if you come, keep it on the down low ... but they said, you'll be safe and if anything happens you can call us."
Bellis said they had recently received an email from MIQ inviting them to apply under a different category.
"The category being that there's a serious risk to our safety, as opposed to 'we need medical treatment'," she said.
"I don't know why we're debating clauses, when nothing has changed in our application.
"The fact of the matter is, I'm a citizen, I pay taxes, I pregnant and I'm in a dangerous situation. Why am I jumping through hoops, you've already got all the information."
At least four people have offered to give up their spots in MIQ for Bellis, but the system does not allow for any swapping of allocations.
A second country has also reportedly offered Bellis refuge.