NZ-based family pleads for Afghan interpreter left behind

Source: 1News

The family of an interpreter left in Afghanistan say his life is in danger after the New Zealand Government denied his bid for resettlement.

Omidullah Atayee, an Afghan volunteer who served as a translator and guide for the NZDF, was one of many who sought safety in New Zealand after the Taliban took power.

“There is only one outcome and [the Taliban] are going to kill him after they find him,” his brother Nawid Atayee said.

He applied for a visa under the new Emergency Resettlement Category for those who helped the NZDF.

But unlike the hundreds of others granted resettlement, Omidullah's application was rejected, shattering his family's hopes.

"It is very sad and heartbreaking," Nawid said.

The reason, according to Defence Force, is that his employment couldn't be verified or confirmed.

But for the NZDF personnel that served with him on the ground, there's is little doubt Omidullah belongs in New Zealand with his family.

Communication obtained by 1News reveals that senior NZDF personnel implored Associate Immigration Minister Phil Twyford to approve the application, citing concerns for Omidullah's safety.

"I can personally vouch for the fact that Omidullah assisted us... I strongly support his application for a Visa," wrote NZDF Lieutenant Colonel Martin Dransfield.

Army Chaplain James Molony told the minister that Omidullah worked as a tutor and that his "life is now in danger” under the Taliban.

In response to questions by 1News, a Government spokesperson said NZDF will again review the application.

But the family’s local MP Christopher Luxon is urging the government to act quickly.

"This is a tragic situation… he’s hiding, at the moment, he's terrified,” said Luxon.

“We need to do the right thing.”