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An Update on Refugee Services in Christchurch

We would like to give you an update on Refugee Services' response to the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that shook the Christchurch area on 22 February.

"We are very happy to share the news that all of our staff have reported in safe, although many have had their homes badly damaged," says Chief Executive Heather Hayden. "Our team is working tirelessly to ensure that all former refugees in the area are safe and have their immediate needs taken care of. I have staff working their way around every family who has arrived in the last 2 years, checking their homes and providing support, first aid and information."

Peter Scott has joined the Christchurch team from the National Office to assist with the disaster response, coordinate relief efforts over the next week and give Christchurch-based staff time to attend to their families and homes. "Peter, Christchurch Manager Anne-Marie Reynolds, other staff and members of the Christchurch Refugee Council have been out visiting clients for the last two days," says Heather. "While there are many clients and staff who are understandably shaken, we are very glad that there have been no reports of serious injuries."

In light of the significant amount of work facing our Christchurch team at this time, we ask that anyone looking for information please contact our National Office team at info@refugeeservices.org.nz or by phone at 04 805 0340, rather than contacting our Christchurch team directly.

For volunteers, former refugees and service providers in the Christchurch area, Interpreting New Zealand is offering free telephone interpreting services for quake-related issues during this state of emergency. If you need to use this service, call Interpreting New Zealand on their toll free line 0508 468 377 and press option 1. When calling, please provide your name, the non-English speaker's name and his/her language, and let the operator know that it is an emergency response call.

If you live in the Christchurch area and have former refugees living nearby, we ask you to introduce yourselves and provide what support and comfort you are able, particularly for those former refugees who have language barriers. Times like these can be very difficult for those who have trouble understanding the news and safety recommendations, and the free telephone interpreting services mentioned above can be of help.

If you would like to find out how you can provide support or donations for former refugees living in the Christchurch area, please contact Teresa Bass at teresa.bass@refugeeservices.org.nz or 04 805 0343.

"There's a lot of conversation at the moment about the people of the Canterbury region having to leave their homes in the wake of this disaster," says Heather. "We are particularly conscious about the impact this has on refugees who have come to New Zealand, having been forced to flee their previous homes under different circumstances. Our hearts go out to them and all the victims of this disaster, and we hope you will join us as we provide support during this difficult time."

Thank you all for your support,

Refugee Services


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