A former Afghan interpreter for the NZ Army, who now lives in Hamilton, fears for the lives of his extended family hiding in Kabul after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
The Afghan translator worked for the New Zealand Defence Force for 10 years. He says publishing his real name could put his family in danger and asked to be referred to only as KD.
He says: "My family had to leave our house and hide in the mountains for two weeks. They made it to Kabul and are now hiding there. My sister-in-law is pregnant and due to give birth in a couple of weeks. She got sick in the mountains and I'm not sure whether the baby is gonna be OK. We just want the baby to be born in a safe place and everyone knows Afghanistan isn't safe."
From 2001-03, KD worked for the American Special Forces, before New Zealand came to Bamyan province in 2003. "America handed over to the NZDF and they asked me to continue working for them. Together with my brother, also a translator, we helped the NZDF finding depots, houses and hiding places of the Taliban," he says.
"I am very happy to live in New Zealand, but mentally I am not here. Me and my brother (also now living in Hamilton) are very worried about our family's safety. I feel guilty for them, because we put their lives in extreme danger, because we worked for the NZDF for so long. I don't want my family tortured by the Taliban."
KD and his brother, together with their wives and children, have been living in New Zealand since 2015. Two years later they started applying for visas for their sister and two other brothers together with their spouses and children - a total of 16 people. All the paperwork has been done, including immigration medicals and support letters from several local MPs, but Immigration NZ still hasn't granted visas
"Why is the New Zealand Government not helping when we helped them? I was happy to work for the NZDF and I never regretted it until two months ago. I knew what was going to happen in Afghanistan, so I sent a letter to the Minister of Immigration and Minister of Foreign Affairs - with no reply. And the case officer just said that they can't do anything, because the borders are closed."
"I am not asking for extra visa, I am not asking for 100 people. I'm just asking for my family who have already applied for a visa years ago.
The applications by KD's family members are just some of dozens of decision-ready visa applications from the Waikato alone sitting with INZ and awaiting action.
"They are eligible, I provided everything Immigration asked for. It's really hard, it's unfair," KD says.
KD's family is not the only one with a visa situation like this. Community Law Centres o Aotearoa chief executive Sue Moroney says there are about 70 "decision-ready" visa applications in the Waikato alone.
"These people have done everything right ... they fulfil the criteria. Some have been seeking residency for over three years ... but Immigration stopped processing these visas when Covid started."
So, Community Law Waikato is taking the New Zealand Government to court hoping to help Afghan nationals who have filed decision-ready visa applications to get to safety in New Zealand.
Community Law Waikato filed an application in the High Court at Wellington last week asking for an urgent hearing. A decision will be made in the next couple of weeks.
"I think we have a strong legal case. We'd love to get a resolution [today], but it depends on how willing the Government is to resolve this."
Moroney said since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the lives of those who helped the Allies or with connections to New Zealand are in immediate danger.
"We usually don't take the Government to court, only in extreme situations. We have done so this time out of desperation, because of the urgency and the fear for people's lives. We asked Immigration New Zealand in February to address decision-ready applications, but nothing has been done. This should be a priority."
"We have an obligation to help them, we have an obligation to do everything that we can."
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi didn't want to comment to the Waikato Herald because it is an ongoing court case.
Family who are already in New Zealand can do nothing but watch from afar. Moroney says: "It is a horrendous time for the families and their mental health. They are very fearful for their loved ones and whenever they can't make contact, they fear for the worst. Lots of people fled to the mountains, because they are scared to be tracked by the Taliban."
"This is a very important story that needs to be told, but it is so hard if everything is about Covid. Humanitarian crises don't halt for alert levels."