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New Zealand accepts new humanitarian cases

27 January 2004 Media Statement

New Zealand accepts new humanitarian cases

New Zealand is to accept 20 humanitarian cases from Nauru referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel announced today.

The group will be counted as part of the existing Refugee Quota of 750 refugees a year. The group includes six Iraqi women who may later be joined in New Zealand by their husbands, presently in Australia on Temporary Protection Visas.

“No additional places have been created in the Refugee Quota, so there are no additional costs as a result of the government’s decision to take this group.”

“My decision to consider the asylum seekers on humanitarian grounds precedes the recent, highly publicised hunger strike on Nauru and was in no way in response to hunger strikers’ demands.

“On the contrary, our decision was based on the government’s wish to contribute constructively to resolving resettlement needs in the region, which has been our approach for some time. New Zealand has been involved in ongoing discussions and communication with the UNHCR on the possibility of accepting further cases from Nauru. The UNHCR considered this group to be particularly vulnerable, and in need of permanent protection. None had been involved in the hunger strike.”

The group of nine adults and 11 children will initially be resettled at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre in Auckland from early this year.

Lianne Dalziel noted that the UNHCR and the Australian Government would reassess the claims of some of the Afghan asylum seekers remaining on Nauru.

“If some of these are subsequently found to be refugees, it is possible New Zealand may be asked to accept further cases. This would be a different situation to the humanitarian cases we have just accepted. However, we would consider such a request on its merits if it might further help resolve the situation on Nauru,” she said.

ENDS

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