Christchurch mosque terror attacks: A brother's agonising visa wait

10:49 am on 19 March 2019

The brother of a man killed in the Christchurch mosque shootings says it's unacceptable their family in Jordan had to wait for visitor visas.

Thirty-eight-year-old Kamel Darwish

Thirty-eight-year-old Kamel Darwish Photo: Photo / Supplied

Kamel Darwish was killed in the Deans Avenue mosque, leaving behind a wife and young children.

He had migrated from Jordan six months ago, and his family were to soon follow.

His brother, Zuhair, said he had been trying to arrange visas so they, and his mother, could farewell Kamel, but the process seemed complicated, and some volunteers had given him confusing information.

"There are lots of documents [and] we don't have time to do it. We also don't have the energy to do it, to be honest. We are in a rush," he said.

"My mother wants to come to see him before he's in the ground, [but] to travel from there to here is two days."

He acknowledged the situation was unprecedented for officials and a "shock" for the government, but pleaded with them to "organise better".

He said the wait was unacceptable.

"It's just a simple visa. [New Zealanders are] lucky. You're not from the Middle East - to go anywhere you can't get any visa," he said.

"I'm a New Zealand citizen. I love this country. I've been here for nearly 15 years. This is my land. My home now."

After being contacted by RNZ, Immigration New Zealand said it was prioritising visas for the Darwish family. This morning it said the visas had been approved.

Earlier agency said 35 visa applications had been granted for the families of victims and it was working flat out.

INZ has staff directly assigned to help people with these applications, as well as phone and email channels for family members of victims of the shootings.

Zuhair Darwish said losing his brother felt like a bad nightmare: "Everybody can't believe it... I can't believe it," he said.

"It's very hard to live in Jordan and I told him, come here, it's the best place that you can raise your child in ... safest place in the world and best future for your child ... that's the only reason that he came.

"He was caring, he was honest he was a loving person ... loving for his family, his wife, kids ... one of the best people you have ever met, very peaceful, doesn't get angry."

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