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Afghans working with Kiwi troops plead for asylum

Published: 6:05PM Sunday April 22, 2012 Source: ONE News

A group of Afghans working with Kiwi troops in Afghanistan is seeking asylum in New Zealand, fearing they will be targeted and killed once coalition troops withdraw.

They spoke exclusively to ONE News correspondent Garth Bray who has been with Kiwi soldiers in Kabul and Bamiyan.

Bray had been at a meeting between an Afghan commander and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman when he was ushered outside to an impassioned and impromptu plea from an interpreter working with Kiwi and Afghan troops.

The interpreter said his work has become a threat to his life, and many others.

"Our faces are very familiar to most of the people. As soon as international forces leave, our future will be very, very dark and it's most likely we are going to be killed," the man said.

Interpreters usually disguise themselves on operations, but not in high level meetings between New Zealanders and senior Afghans suspected of links to the Taliban.

Coleman used to be the immigration minister, so Bray asked him about the appeal.

"We get many, many asylum cases put to the New Zealand Government each year. We consider every case on its merits. So look I really can't comment further than that," he said.

Just after Bray and Coleman spoke, another 20 interpreters approached Coleman and asked for asylum.

Coleman acknowledged to Bray that some Afghans who have been working for the Defence Force will now be known to the Taliban, which suggests they do have a case for asylum in New Zealand.