Some of you may have seen the article published by Stuff on Friday, claiming that New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) had issued an edict to stop Kiwi soldiers seeking information and trying to help their trapped Afghan friends. Contrary to claims by Stuff, there has been no official NZDF edict to stop Kiwi soldiers trying to help their trapped Afghan friends.
Stuff did not ask NZDF for comment on that claim prior to publishing the story and have since communicated to us that they accept that they should have. Following this Stuff modified the original story and published a follow-up story which includes some of the comments NZDF provided after publication of the original story.
The first story does however continue to represent the view that NZDF issued an edict and the second story states that NZDF personnel with links to the conflict still felt that NZDF had been telling our people to stop seeking information about Afghan friends.
In light of this reporting, I want to be clear that we are watching the unfolding events in Afghanistan with sadness and concern. For many of us that served in Afghanistan, the connection to these events are very personal, and the risks facing friends and comrades who remain in Afghanistan is distressing. The NZDF is now going to considerable lengths, with inherent risks, to assist evacuation efforts.
We are deeply concerned about those we are seeking to evacuate. It is not my intention to discourage or prevent members of the NZDF from helping Afghan nationals that contact us seeking evacuation, however the way to help is to direct them to where they can get the best assistance. Directing them to the information available from Immigration New Zealand and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the best support we can give, as these are the New Zealand Government agencies responsible for managing eligibility approvals for evacuation out of Afghanistan. For more information visit the MFAT website here(external link).
Any suggestion that there has been NZDF direction to stop Kiwi soldiers trying to help their trapped Afghan friends is misleading and offensive in what is already a distressing and difficult circumstance. As I stated in my previous message on the situation in Afghanistan, we should all seek to bring the same compassion and comradeship to this difficult time as we displayed during our time in Afghanistan.
You can also reach out to the health centres, social workers, chaplains and psychologists on your Camp or Base: www.force4families.mil.nz/advice-and-support(external link)
For wellbeing support, please call NZDF4U, 0800 693 348 or txt 8881.
Other support can be provided by:
- Veterans’ Affairs, 0800 483 8372
- Lifeline Aotearoa, 0800 543 354
- Samaritans, 0800 726 666
- Contact RSA’s District Support Managers
If urgent, txt 1737 to begin a conversation with a crisis counsellor.