12 Dec 2012

Government extends Afghan interpreter package

11:26 pm on 12 December 2012

Former interpreters who have worked for New Zealand soldiers or police in Afghanistan during the last two years have been offered the opportunity to move to New Zealand.

The offer is expected to apply to about six people and their families.

Staff such as mechanics and cooks have been offered financial assistance including $10,000 to resettle within Afghanistan.

Twenty-three interpreters working with New Zealand forces at present, and their families, were offered immigration to New Zealand in October after they expressed fears about reprisals from the Taliban once the troops had left. So far 21 people have taken up that offer.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says the offer is a sign of good faith from the Government.

"You can't prove that they're not at risk, and there's also a strong element of goodwill there, and we certainly believe there's an element of goodwill there. They all speak English obviously; they're known personally to our people."

He says the total cost of relocation to New Zealand is $8.9 million and the financial assistance package is $360,000.

Anyone moving here will have to undergo immigration health and security checks.