Comprehensive response to global refugee crisis needed

Published: Fri 19 Jun 2015 09:26 AM
World Vision calls on NZ Govt. to launch comprehensive response to global refugee crisis
Embargoed until 6am Friday 19th June
On the eve of World Refugee Day, World Vision New Zealand has called upon the government to stop hiding behind its geographic isolation and do more to help the burgeoning numbers of refugees and displaced people.
Last year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees revealed some 50 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced from their homes – the highest number since World War II. New figures, to be released later this week, are expected to be even worse.
Many host countries are buckling under the strain of massive population influxes. It’s particularly dire in Lebanon; now home to over 1.1 million Syrian refugees.
In response, World Vision and others are asking the government to review this country’s refugee policy. It wants the current quota, which has been static for 30 years, to be doubled from 750 to 1500 over three years (250 per year). This would allow resettlement and social services sufficient time to adjust to the increase.
“It is morally reprehensible that countries with the means to help, like New Zealand, continue to turn a blind eye to the migration crisis. That we expect others with much less than ourselves, to shoulder the burden alone,” says World Vision CEO Chris Clarke.
However, Clarke warns raising the quota should be just one part of this country’s response.
“We have long argued that for every dollar spent on military deployment or training of foreign troops, New Zealand must spend the equivalent on humanitarian aid to alleviate the devastation caused by war. To do otherwise is to accept refugees are simply collateral damage.”
World Vision is also urging the Government to use its position on the United Nation’s Security Council to encourage other countries to do the same, and to advocate for peaceful resolutions in the most unstable of regions.
“We pride ourselves on being a little country at the bottom of the world willing to speak truth to power. In all likelihood that is one of the reasons we were elected to the Council. It’s time we reinforced that reputation and made our two year tenure on it count.”
Syria: The Forgotten Millions
The single largest humanitarian crisis the world is facing today is the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Four million people have fled Syria and Iraq for neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey. A further 7.6 million people are displaced within Syria and Iraq.
“Those affected are not merely statistics; they are human-beings whose lives have been torn apart by war. Alarmingly, half of them are children at risk of becoming a lost generation; largely uneducated and entirely traumatised. These same young people will one day be expected to rebuild and govern their country. It is hardly a recipe for success,” says Chris Clarke.
Watch World Vision’s short film ‘Draw a dream’ where young Syrian refugees illustrate their hopes dreams and fears

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