Pregnant NZ journalist Charlotte Bellis offered a place in MIQ

Media coverage of pregnant NZ journalist Charlotte Bellis' plight
Pregnant New Zealand journalist Charlotte Bellis' plight while stranded in Afghanistan has attracted media coverage in many countries. Image: APR screenshot AJ

RNZ News

Pregnant journalist Charlotte Bellis says her re-activated emergency MIQ application has been approved, and she will return to New Zealand in March.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said yesterday afternoon that Bellis had been offered an MIQ spot.

The government has been defending its border controls after Bellis said she had to turn to the Taliban for help after not being able to fly home.

Having been declined an emergency spot in MIQ, Bellis was assured by senior Taliban officials she would be safe in Afghanistan, where she and her partner have visas.

Bellis said her MIQ application had been met with “technicalities and confusion” and she had been asked to apply under a different category.

In a statement she shared on Twitter, Bellis said her and her photographer partner Jim Huylebroek were “excited” to return home and be surrounded by family and friends “at such a special time”. They are having a girl.

“We want to thank New Zealanders for their overwhelming support. It has been stressful and your kind words and encouragement helped Jim and I immensely. We are disappointed it had to come to this.”

Location risk factor
Bellis said the approval was not granted based on medical needs, but instead on the risk factor of their location — Afghanistan.

“I will continue to challenge the New Zealand government to find a solution to border controls to keep New Zealanders at home and abroad safe and their rights respected.”

Bellis’ plight has attracted media coverage in many countries.

At a post-cabinet media briefing yesterday afternoon, Robertson urged her to take up the place in MIQ made available for her.

He said her case did not mean people would get preferential treatment if they were overseas and made a fuss.

Robertson said Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) staff dealing with emergency applications were handling difficult and challenging cases on a daily bases.

He added Bellis and her lawyer were considering legal action against the government so he would not comment further.

Medical treatment pathway
Bellis told RNZ Morning Report yesterday that she had signed up for an MIQ spot via the medical treatment pathway because it was the correct one and what pregnant women were told to apply under.

She said she had been asked to re-apply under a different category, which was for New Zealanders in a location or a situation where there was a serious risk to their safety.

Bellis and her partner submitted 59 documents in their application to gain an emergency MIQ spot, she said.

“As a New Zealand citizen, I have a legal right to return and I will do whatever the government wants in terms of quarantine or whatever, we’re boosted.”

Bellis said the government needed to explain “the ethics around that and how they’re prioritising, particularly, foreign citizens over their own who are in dangerous situations”.

She said if people tested negative and had the booster dose, then the government needed to revise its policy to allow them entry.

In a statement, head of MIQ Chris Bunny said Bellis had applied for an emergency allocation MIQ voucher on January 24, but the MIQ date requested did not meet the emergency criteria. Travel had to be time-critical and urgent, within the next 14 days.

Birth not a ‘scheduled event’
Bellis said the government failed to recognise that birth was not a “scheduled event”.

Shortly after her application, the team managing emergency applications contacted Bellis to provide her with additional information should she choose to change her flights, the statement said.

RNZ has also highlighted the case of a New Zealander in Australia who was forced to care for her premature baby in hospital alone after her multiple attempts at securing an emergency MIQ room were rejected.

Cabinet had discussions yesterday about reopening New Zealand’s border and the Prime Minister would speak about that tomorrow, Robertson said.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

How the issue was portrayed on Fox News
How the issue was portrayed on Fox News … Bailee Hill (left) interviews New Zealand journalist Charlotte Bellis. Image: APR screenshot
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