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Minister Rejects Criticism over NZ Refugee Record

Hon Michael Woodhouse

Minister of Immigration
11 April 2013 Media Statement

Minister Rejects Criticism over NZ Refugee Record

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse is rejecting criticism that New Zealand isn’t pulling its weight in resettling international refugees.

His comments follow claims by Amnesty International that New Zealand’s contribution to resettling refuges is “tiny” and that New Zealand is part of the problem, not solution, in dealing with people smuggling and mass arrivals.

“New Zealand is rightly proud of its contribution over the years to providing solutions to the world’s refugee problem,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Since we began resettling young Polish refugees in 1944 approximately 33,000 refugees have been given the opportunity to seek a brighter future here.

“We are a small nation, and New Zealanders from around the country have warmly accepted a significant number of refugees into their communities over the years.

“In fact, we have one of the highest refugee intakes per head of population in the world, and to be criticised for accepting 750 refugees every year does the country a disservice.

“New Zealand is one of only a small number of countries that takes part in UNHCR’s regular refugee resettlement programme and the part we played was recognised as a model of best international practice by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees during a recent visit to New Zealand.”

Mr Woodhouse says that the whole- of-government Refugee Resettlement Strategy launched last December is aimed at delivering better outcomes for refugees settling in New Zealand

“This Strategy reflects the importance the Government places on refugee resettlement and helping refugees adapt to life in New Zealand as quickly as possible. It was formed with considerable input from refugee and community groups who have warmly welcomed the Strategy.”

Mr Woodhouse says that this week’s events in Western Australia show that New Zealand is a target for dangerous and illegal mass arrivals by boat and the Government makes no excuses for being fully prepared for such an event.

“These operations are driven by people smugglers who take large sums of money for putting the lives of very vulnerable people, including children, at risk.”


ENDS

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