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Rejected by New Zealand, Pregnant TV Reporter Charlotte Bellis Turns to Taliban

Pregnancy can be a death sentence in Afghanistan, reporter Charlotte Bellis said in 'The New Zealand Herald.'

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A pregnant New Zealand journalist has turned to the Taliban for help after her home country has prevented her from returning due to the coronavirus situation.

Charlotte Bellis, wrote in a column published in The New Zealand Herald on Saturday, that 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.”
Charlotte Bellis in 'The New Zealand Herald'

When she had returned to Qatar in September, she discovered that she was pregnant with her partner, freelance photographer Jim Huylebroek, a contributor to The New York Times. She is due to give birth in May. She explained in her column that she was deployed to Afghanistan by Al Jazeera from her base in Doha, Qatar.

Since extramarital sex is illegal in Qatar, Bellis tried to get back to New Zealand. She then resigned from Al Jazeera in November and the couple moved to Belgium. But she couldn't stay long as she wasn't a resident and didn't have health insurance. She said the only other place the couple had visas to live was Afghanistan.

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New Zealand's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told The New Zealand Herald that he had asked officials to check if the right procedures were followed in Bellis's case.

We got letters from New Zealand obstetricians and medical experts to confirm the dangers of giving birth in Afghanistan and the impact of high stress during pregnancy. We included ultrasounds, letters in support of our relationship, bank statements, our Covid vaccinations including boosters, evidence of my resignation and our travel itinerary since. Between Jim and I, we submitted 59 documents to MIQ and Immigration NZ, including a cover letter written by our lawyer summarising our situation. On Monday, 24 January, we woke up to an email. We were rejected.
Charlotte Bellis in 'The New Zealand Herald'

She stated that as per the United Nations, an extra 50,000 women are expected to die due to childbirth in Afghanistan by 2025 because of the state of maternity care; taking the toll to 70,000. "Here, getting pregnant can be a death sentence," she wrote.

The rules to return to New Zealand have been quite strict as the country has been trying to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum during the pandemic. It has reported only 52 deaths related to coronavirus, among its population of 5 million.

Bellis has requested Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her government to take into consideration the hundreds who have been stranded due to these regulations.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  new zealand   Taliban 

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