Refugee update from Amnesty Intl

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Our Voices summary report highlights overwhelming support for a refugee quota increase

22 March 2016, 10:31 UTC | New Zealand

© Amnesty International / Parisa Taghizadeh
A permanent – and significant – increase in the refugee quota and corresponding resources, is the resounding call to come out of a public submission process, said Amnesty International with the release of a summary report today.

The Our Voices – Summary Report 2016 Refugee Resettlement Quota Review is the result of a two month long public submission process, which saw more than 760 New Zealanders have their say on the country’s refugee resettlement quota.

Ahead of Cabinet’s decision on the quota, the report provides an overview of the messages received throughout the consultation and details overwhelming public support for increasing the annual quota.

It also comes with clear recommendations for the Government on how to strengthen New Zealand’s commitment to refugees, and provides very strong arguments in favour of raising the quota and the funding to support it.

“Public support on this is clear and what people throughout New Zealand are saying is that, not only is a refugee policy set almost 30 years ago out of step with today’s needs, but that it’s time for the Government to listen to the public on this.”

Grant Bayldon, Executive Director at Amnesty International New Zealand
“Public support on this is clear and what people throughout New Zealand are saying is that, not only is a refugee policy set almost 30 years ago out of step with today’s needs, but that it’s time for the Government to listen to the public on this,” said Grant Bayldon, Executive Director at Amnesty International New Zealand.

“Quite frankly the New Zealand government’s failure to respond with integrity to the global refugee crisis by increasing the country’s annual quota is something people across New Zealand feel strongly about.”

The key message received from citizens, service providers, non-governmental organisations, local government, faith communities and former refugees themselves through the submission process was that refugee settlement in New Zealand has seen great success but it is a model that is ready to be scaled up.

The report’s executive summary clearly recommends that as the world has changed dramatically, the New Zealand government should ask itself not how little but how much it can do to support those in need of safety and protection.

The report provides a clear list of practical recommendations for the Government to address New Zealand’s commitment to protection, including:

Permanently increase, preferably by at least double, the annual refugee resettlement quota at the upcoming Cabinet review.
Significantly increase funding to ensure service providers are able to adequately support refugees.
Permanently peg New Zealand’s resettlement quota minimum increase to population growth.
Remove overly restrictive quota requirements for refugees from Africa and the Middle East, and ensure the quota composition is in line with needs prioritised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Expand New Zealand’s Refugee Family Support Category to 600 places a year and consider relaxing eligibility criteria in both the Refugee Quota Family Reunification Category and usual family policy.
Provide alternative legal avenues for populations at risk in addition to the quota, including provisions for community-based private sponsorship, academic scholarships and labour mobility schemes.
“Amnesty International, along with the thousands of people behind this report, is strongly urging the New Zealand government to stop taking a back seat to an issue that we have a global responsibility to address,” said Grant Bayldon.

The report is being released ahead of two crucial international meetings on refugee protection – the Sixth Bali Process Ministerial Conference in Bali tomorrow (23 March), and a high-level meeting convened by the UN Refugee Agency on 30 March which will look into sharing responsibility for the refugee crisis.

“New Zealand has a key role to play in refugee protection, but currently we can’t attend these meetings on the world stage with any integrity when we aren’t sharing the responsibility here in New Zealand.”

Grant Bayldon
“New Zealand has a key role to play in refugee protection, but currently we can’t attend these meetings on the world stage with any integrity when we aren’t sharing the responsibility here in New Zealand,” said Grant Bayldon.

“As the global crisis continues, and more women, children and men seek protection than at any other time in the last 70 years, 750 more people coming to New Zealand each year is a small ask and the least we can do.”

The Our Voices summary report has been sent to all members of Cabinet. All 765 submissions will be delivered to Cabinet members on a date yet to be confirmed.

DOWNLOADS:
OUR VOICES – SUMMARY REPORT 2016 REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT QUOTA REVIEW

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