19 Aug 2021

NZ military personnel leave for Afghanistan, 100 expected to be repatriated

1:50 pm on 19 August 2021

A C-130 Hercules with military personnel aboard left Auckland this morning to help with evacuation efforts from Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover.

New Zealand Army soldiers inside an Australian Army vehicle during the mission rehearsal exercise for Task Group Taji 3 at RAAF Edinburgh, with about 300 Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen prepared for deployment to Iraq in exercise at RAAF Edinburgh in Adelaide, South Australia.

Photo: NZDF / Supplied

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said those evacuated will be New Zealanders, Afghan nationals and other foreign nationals from Afghanistan.

"The contingent will include air crew and maintenance staff, a medical team to support our personnel, operational support staff, logistics personnel and force protection among others."

They are all vaccinated and will complete managed isolation on their return, she said.

The team is expected to be away for about four weeks.

The joint forces commander Jim Gilmour says he expects more than 100 people will be repatriated.

Some of these people may be returned on partner's assests, Ardern said.

"We need to be prepared for how hard this mission will be and how difficult it will be to evacuate those who we are seeking to help," she said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has co-signed an international statement expressing deep concern for women and girls in Afghanistan.

During the Taliban's previous rule, girls were stopped from receiving any form of education, while women were unable to work or leave the house without a male relative.

In a statement, signed by 20 countries and the European Union, it stated that they were "deeply worried" about Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, work and freedom of movement.

"We call on those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to guarantee their protection.

"Afghan women and girls, as all Afghan people, deserve to live in safety, security and dignity."

They wrote, any form of discrimination and abuse should be prevented.

"We in the international community stand ready to assist them with humanitarian aid and support, to ensure that their voices can be heard."

It said these countries will be monitoring how any future government ensures the freedoms that have become an integral part of women and girls' lives during the last 20 years.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs