A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H(NZ) Hercules has arrived back at its base in the Middle East after evacuating New Zealand and Australian nationals from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has about 80 personnel deployed in the Middle East region supporting international efforts to evacuate New Zealanders and other nationals from Afghanistan.

A team of 19 personnel based at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) have been liaising with evacuees and working alongside partner nations to facilitate evacuations.

Last night the Hercules made its first flight into Kabul, arriving at a base in the United Arab Emirates in the early hours of this morning (NZT) with both New Zealand and Australian evacuees on board. They are being assisted and their onward travel facilitated by other agencies.

The group had been supported at an evacuation centre in HKIA prior to departure.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said he was proud of the NZDF team working to safely evacuate New Zealanders and other nationals from Afghanistan.

“We’re continuing to work alongside agencies and partner nations to evacuate New Zealanders, their families and other visa holders in Afghanistan. This is truly a multi-agency effort in collaboration with partner nations. We’re still working to get others evacuated but we’re pleased to get this group of evacuees onto our Hercules aircraft and out to a safe base, and to have worked closely with our Australian counterparts on the return of other evacuees home to New Zealand.”

Yesterday, the first evacuees from Afghanistan arrived in New Zealand after being earlier evacuated from Kabul on a Royal Australian Air Force flight.

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