Fall of Afghanistan: Group makes urgent plea to NZ Government to take action

A group of 61 organisations and individuals, including aid groups, religious and community leaders, lawyers and academics, are calling on the Government to stop dragging its feet on Afghanistan and urgently act as the troubled country’s humanitarian crisis worsens.

An open letter to Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Foreign Affairs was submitted today

from the group, expressing major concerns about delays in Government action.

“Your Government is perceived to be one that practices kindness and is committed to collective action for the betterment of humanity, yet other countries have taken significant steps to address the need for international support and assistance, while New Zealand has not,” says the letter, which comes after Afghanistan fell back into Taliban hands last month after two decades of war.

The urgent plea highlights the needs in Afghanistan which are “growing by the hour”.

While the Taliban settles into power, there have been mounting reports of executions and revenge attacks, including the targeting of Afghan civilians who worked alongside foreign forces.

There are around 365 people with links to New Zealand who are still in Afghanistan, including passport and visa holders, along with ex-NZDF interpreters and others who worked with Kiwi troops, who couldn’t be evacuated before the total withdrawal of US and other NATO allies at the end of August amid suicide bomb attacks and rising terror threats.

The Herald reported on Tuesday that proposals to try to evacuate those left behind will be considered by Cabinet next week.

None of the group of 38 Afghan interpreters and other ex-NZDF Afghan civilians managed to get evacuated, the Defence Minister’s office confirmed this week.

On top of the cut-short evacuations, the group points to compounding crises which include hunger, displacement, conflict and Covid-19.

“Basic services are collapsing, and aid is running out,” the open letter says.

“There are ongoing reports of gross human rights abuses. Women, children, and those who have worked to promote human rights, democracy and education, are amongst the people most at risk.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent an even greater humanitarian disaster and to ensure that every individual has their rights and dignity upheld.”

Canada has announced the resettlement of up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghan nationals, while the UK has committed to accepting 20,000 Afghan refugees and the US is expected to admit 50,000. America has also set aside a US$500 million fund which will help meet urgent migration needs, while European countries and Australia are taking similar steps.

“However, New Zealand has made no such commitments yet,” says the letter, urging the Government to take action.

“The New Zealand Government spent 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars in military expenditure as part of the international intervention in Afghanistan.

“We have an obligation to the people of Afghanistan to stand by them now. Be it the provision of aid, or safe pathways to New Zealand, the time for response is immediate and the cost of inaction is high.

“We now call on you to do more.”

The open letter is signed by:


Afghan Cultural Association of Wellington

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

Anglican Missions

Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition (ARCC)

Asylum Support Seekers Trust (ASST)

Belong Aotearoa

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand


Christian Churches New Zealand

Christian World Service

Community Law Centres O Aotearoa

Congregational Union of New Zealand

Council for International Development


Fairtrade ANZ


Hazara Afghan Youth Association (HAYA)

Hazara Association of New Zealand

Methodist Church of New Zealand

NZBMS (New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society)

Oxfam Aotearoa


Save the Children


The Gender Justice Collective

The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago

Tutapona International

UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand

United Afghan Association of Canterbury

Vineyard Churches Aotearoa New Zealand

Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand

World Vision New Zealand

Alberto Costi, Professor, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Amin Vakili, Civil Society Activist and members of the Afghan Cultural Association of Wellington

Archbishop Don Tamihere. Te Pihopa o Aotearoa

Archbishop Philip Richardson, Bishop of Waikato and Taranaki

Associate Professor Bethan Greener PhD, Massey

Blake Dawson, Barrister (Brandon Street Chambers)

Bridget Crichton (Fa’amatuainu), Lecturer, AUT School of Law

Carol Peters, PhD, QSM, Whangarei District Councillor

Dr Arif Ali, Hazara Association of New Zealand and Afghan Cultural Association of Wellington

Dr Charles Mpofu, Senior Lecturer

Dr Marnie Lloydd, Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Natalia Szablewska, International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Expert, Auckland University of Technology

Dr. Heather Devere, Director of Practice, Te Ao o Rongmaraeroa/National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

Eleanor Holroyd Co-Director AUT Centre of Migrant and Refugee Research

James Meager, Public Law Solicitor

Jane Verbitsky, Associate Professor

Javid Nazari, President of Afghan Cultural Association of Wellington

John McBride, Barrister

Marianne Elliott, Human Rights Advocate

Mohammad Raqiz Nabizadah, member of Afghan Cultural Association of Wellington

Monique van Alphen Fyfe, Barrister | Rōia Tūtahi (Stout Street Chambers)

Natalie Baird, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law | Te Kaupeka Ture, University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha

Nicola Muir, Author

Paul Rishworth QC

Right Reverend Fakaofo Kaio – Moderator Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa NZ

Shakerah Zakeri, member of the Afghan community

Sulaiman Sarwary, PhD student and member of Aotearoa’s Afghan Community

Wendy Aldred, Barrister (Stout Street Chambers)

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