Wellington: Nine Afghan interpreters who worked for the New Zealand forces in Afghanistan will be given residence along with their families in the country as they could face persecution at home, it was announced here on Friday.
The decision came after critics questioned the New Zealand government`s decision last December to resettle only 30 Afghan interpreters and their 64 family members, Xinhua reported.
"Local interpreters worked with New Zealand personnel in Afghanistan. The government recognizes its duty towards them and is committed to fulfil it," said Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.
Earlier, residence was only given to interpreters who had worked for the New Zealand-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamyan province, but critics pointed out that other interpreters who worked with the team over its 10-year deployment could also be in danger if they remained in Afghanistan.
The government then invited those who had a reason to come New Zealand. They were asked to request the immigration minister for getting residence as an exception to the norm.
"These nine interpreters requested for the same. After considering their service and circumstances, my decision now clears the way for them and their families to be in New Zealand," said Woodhouse.