A pregnant New Zealand journalist has said she had to turn to the Taliban for help after being locked out of her home country due to its strict coronavirus restrictions.
Charlotte Bellis has submitted 59 documents to New Zealand officials in Afghanistan in a bid to secure an emergency return home since she learned she was pregnant in September.
Ms Bellis, who worked for Al Jazeera, said it was “brutally ironic” that she once questioned the Taliban about their treatment of women and was now asking the same questions of her own government.
“When the Taliban offers you — a pregnant, unmarried woman — safe haven, you know your situation is messed up,” she wrote in her column for the New Zealand Herald.
New Zealand has imposed one of the strictest border control policies in the world in a bid to combat Covid-19.
Its borders have been shut to foreigners since March 2020.
The government pushed back plans for a phased reopening from mid-January to the end of February due to concerns over a potential Omicron outbreak in neighbouring Australia.
Ms Bellis said her “miracle” daughter was conceived after she attended the Taliban’s first press conference since taking power following the fall of Kabul.
Speaking to 1News about her situation, Ms Bellis asked: “To the NZ Government, I ask what do you want me to do? I have done nothing wrong I got pregnant and I am a New Zealander.
“At what point did we get so bogged down in these rules we’ve come up with that we can’t see that she’s a Kiwi in need of help and she needs to come home?”
In the column, she said she discovered she was pregnant while in Qatar with her partner and freelance photographer Jim Huylebroek.
After failing in a bid to return to New Zealand, the couple moved to Belgium but could not stay long as she was not a resident.
She said the only other country that could grant the couple visa entry was Afghanistan.
Senior Taliban officials gave her their blessing to for her to return to the country.
“Just tell people you’re married and if it escalates, call us. Don’t worry,” she said they told her.
Chris Hipkins, Covid-19 response minister for New Zealand, said he has told officials to check whether the correct procedures were followed in Ms Bellis’ case.