A pregnant New Zealand journalist who was stranded there Afghanistan After failing to secure a place in her own country’s strict quarantine system, she has now been offered a place, the government has confirmed.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the Department for Business, Innovation and Employment, which administers the quarantine scheme known as MIQ, offered Charlotte Bellis a MIQ voucher.
“There is a spot in the MIQ for Miss Bellis and I urge her to fill it,” Robertson said.
Bellis discovered she was pregnant shortly after attracting international attention for interviews in 2021 Taliban Executives about their dealings with women and girls. She is due to give birth in May.
She resigned from Al Jazeera in November and had no choice but to leave Qatar, where she was normally based, because sex outside of marriage is illegal.
She and her partner Jim Huylebroek then moved to his native Belgium. In a column published in the New Zealand The Herald wrote to Bellis on Saturday that she could not stay in Belgium because she was not a resident. She said the only other place the couple could live is Afghanistan, where they are now.
In her column, she said she was forced to do it Contact the Taliban for help before returning to Afghanistan after her application for a place in New Zealand’s MIQ was rejected. She said she has since tried unsuccessfully to get an emergency MIQ to give birth in New Zealand.
New Zealand has managed to keep the spread of the coronavirus as low as possible during the pandemic and has reported 52 Covid deaths among its population of 5 million.
But the requirement for even returning citizens to spend 10 days in quarantine hotels run by the military has left thousands of people vying for places backlogged.
Robertson said Covid-19 has meant many New Zealanders have been unable to return home for funerals, weddings and childbirth.
“It’s incredibly tough. We launched our MIQ process for a very good reason – it supported our public health response; it has avoided a number of deaths. But it doesn’t make it easy for people on the other end to come back to New Zealand.”
The Guardian has reached out to Bellis for comment.