INDEPENDENT NEWS

Concerns Mounting Over Queenstown Refugee Crisis: The Salvation Army

Published: Tue 21 Apr 2020 12:54 PM
The Salvation Army has mounting concerns over what is becoming a refugee crisis in Queenstown.
Many migrant workers, who fill a large proportion of hospitality and tourism jobs in the town, have found themselves unable to travel back home, without a job, and with no form of support, yet still having to pay large rent bills.
The Salvation Army joined with Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult and the Queenstown branches of the Citizens Advice Bureau and Chamber of Commerce in calling for the Government to allow migrants to access the Job Seeker Allowance during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The district’s QLDC-led Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has received more than 5,000 requests for welfare assistance from members of the community facing significant hardship due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, to which The Salvation Army has mobilised in response.
However, short-term welfare will not resolve an ongoing issue for vulnerable migrants, The Salvation Army Queenstown Director of Community Ministries Lieutenant Andrew Wilson says.
“Giving food parcels and material goods is like putting a band-aid on the Titanic. Many migrants cannot return home, either because their country is in total lockdown or they do not have the resources to pay for flights.
“We've had one case where the individual was made redundant two weeks before the level 4 lockdown. They had booked flights to return to their home country but their flight was cancelled at the last minute. They are now stuck here with no means of returning home but is still required to pay for rent and outgoings.”
“We have seen a 600 percent increase in requests for services since the lockdown began. These have typically been requests for food parcels and winter clothing and bedding,” Lt Wilson says.
Salvation Army
Caring for people, transforming lives and reforming society.
The Salvation Army is an international movement and an evangelical branch of the Christian Church that expresses its ministry through a range of spiritual and social programmes. Our operational headquarters for New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga is in Wellington, New Zealand.
Contact Salvation Army
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Physical Address:
202 Cuba Street, Marion Square, Wellington 6141
Media Contact:
christina_tyson@nzf.salvationarmy.org
Postal Address:
Po Box 6016, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

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