Kiwi desperately hoping wife can escape Kabul terror

Vandhna Bhan
Source: 1News

Kiwis with families stuck in Afghanistan are worried they may not be able to escape in time.

There's been scenes of chaos around Kabul as thousands try to get to the airport, leaving at least seven people reportedly dead.

The Taliban have ordered US troops, who've been holding Kabul's airport open for evacuation flights, to leave by next week.

They're saying if the deadline is extended beyond August 31, it would be a "clear violation" and it would "provoke a reaction".

So the race is now on to get people out.

Among them trying to desperately flee is Khairulla Azizi's wife.

They got married in Afghanistan in 2019 and Azizi returned to New Zealand, unaware the global pandemic was going to keep them apart for over a year.

"I saw her last at the end of January 2020 and have not seen her again since," he says.

She's been granted a critical purpose visitor visa to come to New Zealand and reunite with her husband since the Taliban took over Kabul, but the hardest part is getting through the crowds at Kabul airport.

Tens of thousands have been waiting for days to board an evacuation flight, and Azizi's wife has tried three times.

"The first time she tried to come over, she was at the northern gate and it was just a hail of bullets going around her as I was talking to her. She was actually almost trampled as well, she's not a towering figure obviously and it's a male dominated scene," says Azizi.

A record 16,000 people were flown out of Kabul in the past 24 hours. The New Zealand and Australia defence forces coordinating their efforts.

"Last night we got over 650 people out. It was our biggest night, that was on five flights including one Kiwi flight. We've uplifted a lot of Kiwis, they were with us last night uplifting Aussies so we thank them for that," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this morning.

Those lucky enough to be among the first group of NZ evacuees touched down in Auckland yesterday. The New Zealand Government is hoping more will follow.

But outside the airport the situation remains chaotic.

Many are unable to get through checkpoints in Kabul and then some are unable to make it onto evacuation planes according to their families here in New Zealand.

"We were told that they're in the wrong location and the wrong location and right location is probably just 50 metres apart from each other, and we were just told sorry you're in the wrong place," says Azizi.

"We've gone to the northern gate we've gone to the southern gate we've gone to the main gate and now we've been told to attempt the eastern gate... any spot that anyone can get in is being taken up by someone so its just chaos out there," he says.

A spokesperson for the Afghan Association of New Zealand says, "I don't think there's a process, people are heading to the airport with any documents with the hope they would get through".

Azizi is frustrated with the lack of communication and the growing confusion around what advice to give his wife to ensure she boards a flight to New Zealand.

"The people that are getting to the front are the people without the documents and the people with the documents are left behind," he says.

But New Zealand's government says the mission is far from simple.

"The area around Kabul is significantly strained, and its very challenging exercise, but we continue to work closely with our partners," deputy prime minister Grant Robertson said today.

But with the Taliban's deadline, time's running out for foreign forces to get people out safely.

"I'm talking to families who think who are potentially going to be left behind, my wife included and whether I'll be able to get her out or not is something that I worry about all the time," Azizi says.

Kiwi families terrified their loved ones might be left behind.