INDEPENDENT NEWS

Organisations call on Govt to act on growing refugee crisis

Published: Wed 11 Dec 2019 08:09 AM
A collective of former refugee leaders, resettlement, human rights, faith-based and humanitarian organisations have signed and sent an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. The letter asks the Government to better include refugee voices in policymaking, increase the number of places available under the Refugee Family Support Category and to establish the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship category as a permanent pathway in New Zealand’s broader refugee and humanitarian programme.
The calls come ahead of the inaugural Global Refugee Forum (taking place in Geneva on December 17th and 18th, 2019), which is an outcome of the Global Compact on Refugees which New Zealand is signed to. Amnesty International Executive Director Meg de Ronde will also be attending the Forum to share the huge potential of community sponsorship of refugees in New Zealand.
The Forum (which will be held every four years) represents a significant opportunity for states and non-state actors to work together to respond to the challenges and opportunities of international forced displacement, and to uphold the rights and dignity of refugees around the world.
Amnesty International Policy and Advocacy Manager Annaliese Johnston says the letter both commends and critiques the Government’s work.
“Increasing the quota to 1,500 people per year, the piloting of the Community Sponsorship of Refugees programme as a complementary pathway and the removal of the discriminatory family-link policy are all moves that ensure more families can live together and have a safe place to call home.”
But Johnston says New Zealand’s leading organisations in the refugee space are asking the Government to do more.
“With the number of refugees worldwide now well over 25 million it’s clear we need to do more and New Zealand isn’t doing its part. In fact we’re even lagging behind Australia when we look at the number of refugees accepted per capita. The fact that so many prominent organisations have signed this open letter should be a show of the overwhelming support and will for New Zealand to be doing more.”
She says the solutions are already clearly defined.
“We would like to see more of the refugee community better involved in policymaking and we would like to see the permanent implementation of the Government’s Community Sponsorship of Refugees programme. It’s a programme that’s had huge success overseas and it connects communities with families who’ve sought refuge in New Zealand so effectively that people are making life-long friends. We know it works. It doesn’t divide people it connects people, is the antidote to xenophobia, and is especially important post Christchurch.”
Signatories to the open letter
Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand
Asylum Seeker Support Trust, Tim Maurice, 027 765 3460
Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition
Belong Aotearoa
Changemakers Resettlement Forum
Empower Youth Trust, Rez Gardi, 021 204 2292
Oxfam New Zealand
Refugees as Survivors New Zealand, media 0275353528
Refugee Family Reunification Trust
South West Baptist Church
Tearfund New Zealand, media 021 541 654
The Global Compact on Refugees (GCR)
The Compact was endorsed last December by 181 member states with the United States and Hungary the only two not to sign on. Every four years a Global Refugee Forum will be convened to monitor its progress with the first in December 2019. The Compact seeks to:
• Grow resettlement, including with more protection places;
• Advance complementary pathways by improving access and developing opportunities;
• Build strong foundations by promoting welcoming and inclusive societies.

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