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Refugees want to go “home” to Canterbury

Refugees want to go “home” to Canterbury

Most of the former refugees of war and trauma that fled to Auckland after the February 22 earthquake have decided they want to go home to Canterbury.

Dr Arif Saeid, Refugees as Survivors New Zealand (RASNZ) community services manager, has been working closely with the refugee communities and says many feel Christchurch is now their home.

“My feeling is that almost all the refugees will go home to Christchurch,” Dr Saeid says. “After helping in Christchurch with the relief efforts last week I’ve seen that the community support they have there is absolutely fantastic. In Auckland the community is much bigger and the city is spread out which makes it much harder to get by.”

Many of the refugees that arrived in Auckland were families with children. They lost many of their meagre possessions in houses that have been condemned. The Auckland City Mission and RASNZ have started a drive to collect toys and books, which will be donated to the families who have been temporarily living at the Mangere Refugee Centre.

Other refugee families are still in temporary housing, but several now have plans to go back after March 20.

“A lot of people are scared by ‘Moonman’ Ken Ring’s prediction about an earthquake at this time. Some have also come to Auckland because their houses have been destroyed, because of medical conditions, or to get some temporary breathing space and they plan to go back after March 20.” Dr Saeid says.

He adds that many have stayed to help rebuild Christchurch and more will return after a short break to join in that big community effort.

Volunteers from former refugee communities in Christchurch served 250 lunches to soldiers, police officers, firemen and civil defence helpers around the CBD cordon on Monday and Friday (subs note: March 7 and 11) and will be organising volunteer help in the clean up and recovery work this week.

The Canterbury Refugee Council also distributed over 250 torches to Christchurch citizens and is expected to increase this distribution with the help of RASNZ funding throughout the week.

Refugees as Survivors New Zealand (RASNZ) is an agency that provides mental health treatment and rehabilitation for refugees to New Zealand from war torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq or Burma. The team has been recognised internationally for its work.


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