New Zealand offers residency to Afghan translators

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand says it will offer residency to all the military translators it employs in Afghanistan.

Defense minister Jonathan Coleman on Friday announced New Zealand will offer resettlement packages to 23 Afghan interpreters and their immediate families, a total of about 73 people.

New Zealand is preparing to withdraw its small contingent of 145 troops in April. The troops have been stationed in central Bamiyan province since 2003.

Some Afghan translators who have worked for coalition forces have been killed by the Taliban and others have been threatened. Their fate has come under increasing scrutiny as many coalition countries prepare to withdraw troops.

The U.S. has been criticized for not dealing more quickly with a huge backlog of interpreters who have applied for U.S. visas.