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A pregnant New Zealand journalist who was left stranded in Afghanistan by her country's Covid-19 border policy will be allowed to return home.
Charlotte Bellis had previously been rejected from being granted an emergency return to New Zealand and had been unsuccessful in her attempts to gain a place in one of the country's military-run quarantine facilities though a lottery system, but announced on Tuesday she'd been offered a pathway back by the government.
'I will be returning to my home country New Zealand at the beginning of March to give birth to our baby girl,' she said. 'We are so excited to return home and be surrounded by family and friends at such a special time.'
Bellis had been working as an Afghanistan correspondent for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news organisation, but had been forced to resign in November last year as being pregnant while unmarried is illegal in Qatar.
She then travelled to Belgium in an effort to get a residency permit in the country of her partner, Jim Huylebroek, but was unable to complete the process before her visa would have expired.
The couple returned to Afghanistan after being assured by Taliban officials that she and her partner would be safe there, with Bellis writing in a column for the New Zealand Herald, 'When the Taliban offers you – a pregnant, unmarried woman – safe haven, you know your situation is messed up.'
Following widespread public interest in Bellis's case, New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson confirmed on Tuesday, February 1, she had been offered a voucher for a room in a quarantine hotel. 'There is a place in managed isolation and quarantine for Ms Bellis and I urge her to take it up,' he said, per BBC News.
He denied she'd been offered a place as a result of the attention her case has received.
The stringent border measures in place in New Zealand have been credited with its success in keeping Covid-19 case rates among the lowest in the world, but Bellis's case has sparked outrage among fellow New Zealanders, with dozens of other pregnant women also unable to return home to give birth as a result of a backlog in the quarantine system.
In a post on Instagram, Bellis said that she while she was pleased to be returning home she was disappointed the government was not extending offers to others in similar situations.
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