Taliban thanks NZ for financial aid for Afghanistan

Source: 1 NEWS / Associated Press

The Taliban has thanked New Zealand for offering financial aid to Afghanistan during the group's takeover of the country.

The New Zealand Government announced $3 million in aid to the Red Cross and United Nations late last week.

In their first sit down interview since the Taliban took control earlier this month, a top official told Al Jazeera's Charlotte Bellis, who is a New Zealand journalist, they wanted to say thank you.

"I've recently witnessed reports that New Zealand has announced a $3 million aid, humanitarian aid, to the Afghans in this time of crisis and we thank the generous offer of New Zealand in this time of crisis and time of need for our people, that most of whom are living below poverty line," Abdul Qahar Balkhi, from the Taliban's Cultural Commission, said.

"New Zealand has been the first, the leading country as it has always been during humanitarian causes, has been the leading country to announce a humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.

"I would like to say as a representative of the people of Afghanistan, I would like to immensely thank the people of New Zealand and the Government of New Zealand for showing empathy with their fellow human beings."

It comes as thousands of people swamp the international airport in Kabul, desperately trying to flee the country after the Taliban took control.

There are fears that the Taliban will return Afghanistan to the repressive rule they imposed when they were last in power.

Some Afghans have taken to the streets to protest the takeover — acts of defiance that Taliban fighters have violently suppressed.

The Taliban say they have become more moderate since they last ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s and have pledged to restore security and forgive those who fought them in the 20 years since a US-led invasion toppled them from power.

But many Afghans are sceptical, fearing that the Taliban will erase the gains, especially for women, achieved in the past two decades. An Amnesty International report provided more evidence Friday that undercut the Taliban's claims they have changed.

The rights group said that its researchers spoke to eyewitnesses in Ghazni province who recounted how the Taliban killed nine ethnic Hazara men in the village of Mundarakht from July 5 to July 7.