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Government acts to stop refugees' hostel closure

23 March 2000


Government acts to stop refugees' hostel closure

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said today the government had approved urgent funding of $45,000 to save an Auckland hostel for refugee claimants from closure.

"This funding will enable the Auckland Refugee Council's Grove Road Hostel to continue while the government looks at longer-term funding solutions," Helen Clark and Lianne Dalziel said.

The two ministers said the grant had been approved only after other options had been explored by officials.

"The service the hostel provides is unique. It has faced closure on a number of occasions, and indicated to the government that without a firm funding assurance, it would be forced to close within a matter of weeks," Helen Clark and Lianne Dalziel said.

"It is a decision based on compassion and one in line with our international obligations to assist organisations which work with people seeking refugee status.

"For asylum seekers who come to New Zealand and need the hostel and advocacy service provided by the Auckland Refugee Council, the closure would have been a devastating blow.

"The hostel has been funded from a number of sources, including claimants' benefits, charitable trusts and government organisations, and has received grants from the Auckland City Council.

"It has provided accommodation for more than 450 people seeking refugee status in New Zealand since opening in March 1997, has had to turn away people regularly because it does not have available space."

As Mt Albert MP Helen Clark is familiar with the Sandringham's hostel's funding difficulties.

Lianne Dalziel said that she is developing policy on how to support organisations which work with refugees and those seeking refugee status.

"The Auckland Refugee Council will be invited to present an application for ongoing funding to the Immigration Service. An analysis of the hostel's immediate needs and financial status will be completed before final approval is given," Lianne Dalziel said.

ENDS


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