Refugee Council Backs Call to Increase Humanitarian Quota

Published: Mon 23 Mar 2015 09:02 AM
The Refugee Council of New Zealand Supports Dame Susan Devoy’s Call to Increase the UN Humanitarian Quota as Timely
The Refugee Council considers that Dame Susan Devoy’s call over the weekend for the Government to review and increase the UN humanitarian refugee quota (750 per year) is very timely and strongly supports it.
The UNHCR quota (of highest urgent protection cases) that NZ accepts annually has not changed since 1987 and remains at 750.
The population in 1987 was 3.27 million and at 2015 is at 4.51 million.
That represents an increase in population of over 37%, but the UN refugee quota that NZ assists with has increased 0%.
If the New Zealand increased our annual quota to only 1000 per year (the figure suggested by Dame Susan) that would represent only a 33% increase.
NZ ranked 6th per capita for the 21 countries accepting UN refugees under the humanitarian quota system
But NZ ranks 87th in the world for hosting refugees per capita
Australia takes 5 times more quota refugees per capita than NZ
NZ receives some of the lowest numbers of asylum seekers in the world because of our remote location. The small numbers of asylum claimants have been dramatically dropping (approx. 300 per year of which only about 40% will be found to be genuine refugees)
Much has been made by some politicians about helping desperate refugees who have waiting in the “Queue”. These are the UN Quota refugees. We have closed the doors on asylum claimants but in return we need to open them to those referred by the UN under the UNHCR system.
The Syrian Crisis is the worst humanitarian disaster since the Cambodian and Vietnamese Crises in the late 1970’s and 80’s. New Zealand stood up and responded brilliantly during Cambodian killing fields and Viet Nam crises and some of our leading citizens came here as refugees during that period.
Refugees and their children are huge assets to New Zealand and there so many remarkable success stories. Some of the children of refugees even go on to become Prime Ministers.
As a country we seem to be able to find $165 million dollars to send Kiwi troops to Iraq, but seem to find it difficult to accept another 300 desperate traumatised women and children from Syria or Iraq who are in urgent need of UN protection and a safe haven.
To its credit the NZ Govt has rightly moved in the past 3 years to improve the resettlement of UN Quota refugees through the National Refugee Resettlement Strategy. The Govt was right to focus on quality rather than quantity. But now in the face of the terrible plight of persecuted Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq, New Zealand needs to respond appropriately and step up. New Zealand is a member of the UN Security Council and has an international reputation for the good quality of it humanitarian refugee resettlement programme for over 35 years. NZ accepts the most urgent high protection cases including medical cases, victims of torture and trauma, displaced women and children at risk and children whose families are dead or missing. We can both address poverty in our own country and at the same time help a few of the world’s most desperate, vulnerable and needy people by giving them a chance at a new life in a wonderful country such as we are fortunate to live in.

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