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Greens urge Government to take more asylum seekers

27 January, 2004

Greens urge Government to take more asylum seekers

Green MP Keith Locke has welcomed the government's decision to take another group of the asylum seekers presently interred on Nauru but is challenging New Zealanders to open their hearts to more.

"It is wonderful that the Prime Minister has agreed to the request from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to accept 20 refugees from Nauru," said Mr Locke, the Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson. "But there is certainly room for us to take more.

"Of the 284 mainly Afghan asylum seekers that Australia has left stranded on Nauru, 93 are children and 35 are unaccompanied minors. Living in a prison camp on Nauru for over two years is no life for a child. They have suffered terribly.

"New Zealand should show its compassion by offering them a better a life. At the same time, we should be doing all we can to shame the Australian Government into taking responsibility for its own lack of humanity in creating a virtual Pacific gulag.

"It is only by accident of geography that we don't get boat people in New Zealand, but we have a humanitarian obligation to do our share to accommodate them. Taking 20 out of 284 is a gesture but we should make a more serious commitment to alleviating the suffering of the less fortunate."


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