A pregnant New Zealand reporter said she turned to the Taliban for help after being unable to return home has been granted re-entry after an outcry. Charlotte Bellis said she had flown to Afghanistan after being unable to get an entry spot under New Zealand’s intense Covid border rules. The border laws were originally created to keep out the spiraling Covid-19 pandemic. The current rules are that citizens and permanent residents may re-enter, but only if they spend 10 days isolated in quarantine hotels. As people continue to lust for life after the pandemic, there is high demand for such facilities and a limited number of spots. It has been said that many New Zealanders wishing to return have effectively been shut out of their country for about two years now.
Bellis and her partner, who is a photojournalist, first contacted the Taliban during their time in Belgium, however, both their visas were set to expire in what would be the remaining time there. The two only had visas for Afghanistan, from when they were covering the withdrawal of troops last year.
When speaking with Taliban representatives, her mind became at ease, “You can come and you won’t have a problem. Just tell people you’re married and if it escalates, call us,” Ms.Bellis quoted the unnamed officials as saying in response to her request. She reacted to their kindness by writing, “When the Taliban offers you – a pregnant, unmarried woman – safe haven, you know your situation is messed up,”. This exaggerated the disdain she felt for her home country at that moment.
Although many would think it progressive to have an unmarried, pregnant woman protected by the Taliban, many Afghani people believe it highlights the difference in treatment of non-afghans and afghans. Around the same time this issue began to escalate and grow into world news, the Taliban abducted afghani locals: Tamana Paryani, her 3 sisters & Parwana Ibrahimkhil. Twelve days after their disappearance, No one knows where they are and what’s happened to them. Assistant Researcher with the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, Sahar Fetrat, took to Twitter to escalate concern for the missing women and also emphasize the double standard the Taliban maintains. She has continued to Tweet with disdainful remarks about Bellis’ praise to the Taliban in interviews.
Following the publication of Ms. Bellis’ letter, called for New Zealand authorities to adjust the emergency quarantine allocation criteria to specifically cater for pregnant women. Authorities defended their policy Yesterday, saying the system had “served New Zealand exceptionally well, saved lives and hospital admissions and kept our health system from being swamped”. As a result of the public attention around her case, the New Zealand government said they had offered a quarantine spot to Ms. Bellis and her partner set up flight arrangements, today.