Photo: Australian citizens and visa holders are made comfortable by ADF personnel as they board the Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster preparing to depart Hamid Karzai International Airport. Credit: Australian Defence Force. 

The New Zealand Defence Force has been assisting in the evacuation of New Zealand citizens and their families from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF had a team of 18 personnel based at Hamid Kazai International Airport (HKIA), where they have been liaising with evacuees and working alongside partner nations to facilitate evacuations.

On Saturday NZT, a group of New Zealand citizens and their families were evacuated from HKIA on a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster to the United Arab Emirates. Forward travel for that group is being arranged by agencies working with partner nations. Officials have received advice that a couple of other NZ citizens were evacuated earlier on flights by partner nations.

A second group of New Zealand citizens and their families are in the evacuation centre at HKIA and processes are underway for them to be evacuated as soon as possible.

Rear Admiral Gilmour said the situation on the ground remains extremely challenging.

“But we are pleased to have been able to assist in what has been a concentrated multi-agency effort, including officials from Immigration NZ and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to get the first New Zealand citizens and their families out of Afghanistan.”

“We are continuing to work to get others out as quickly as possible, and are continuing to closely monitor the security situation on the ground in Kabul.”

The NZDF has deployed a C-130H(NZ) Hercules and up to 80 personnel to assist with international efforts to evacuate New Zealanders and other eligible nationals from Afghanistan.

The contingent includes aircrew and maintenance staff, a medical team, operational support staff, logistics personnel and force protection, among others.

The deployment is expected to last around one month.

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