A pregnant New Zealand journalist says she turned to the Taliban for help and is now stranded in Afghanistan after her home country has prevented her from returning due to a bottleneck of people in its coronavirus quarantine system.
In a column published in The New Zealand Herald on Saturday, Charlotte Bellis said it was “brutally ironic” that she’d once questioned the Taliban about their treatment of women and she 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,” Ms. Bellis wrote in her column.
New Zealand has managed to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum during the pandemic and has reported just 52 virus deaths among its population of 5 million.
But the nation’s requirement that even returning citizens spend 10 days isolating in quarantine hotels run by the military has led to a backlog of thousands of people wanting to return home vying for spots.
She said she sent 59 documents to New Zealand authorities in Afghanistan but they rejected her application for an emergency return.
Ms. Bellis said that pregnancy can be a death sentence in Afghanistan because of the poor state of maternity care and lack of surgical capabilities.