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New Zealand to take 750 more Syrian refugees

Hon Michael Woodhouse

Minister of Immigration
7 September 2015 Media Statement

New Zealand to take 750 more Syrian refugees

The Government has today announced New Zealand will welcome 750 Syrian refugees over the next two and a half years in response to the ongoing conflict in Syria, says Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

Of the 750 places, 600 will be by way of a special emergency intake above New Zealand’s annual refugee quota of 750, and 150 places will be offered within the quota.

“Like most New Zealanders, the Government is very concerned at the humanitarian crisis now unfolding in Syria and Europe that has visibly worsened in recent times,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“That’s why we will dedicate 150 places for Syrians within the existing 2015/16 annual quota of 750. On top of that we’ll take in another 100 Syrians in this financial year, and a further 500 over the next two financial years (2016/17 and 2017/18).

“This means a total of 750 Syrian refugees will be welcomed into New Zealand over the next two and a half years.”

Mr Woodhouse said the cost of the additional places is estimated at $48.8 million over two and a half years. This is on top of the $58 million the Government already spends annually on resettling refugees.

“This commitment will be in addition to any decisions that may come out of the standard three year review of the refugee quota which will take place in 2016 as planned.

“Today’s decision is an appropriate response. Official advice is an immediate intake of any more than the extra 100 announced today for this year could put unreasonable strains on services, affecting the quality of resettlement outcomes for all refugees in New Zealand.

“There are practical limitations around our ability to provide enough housing, translators, health services - all factors we need to take into consideration,’’ he says.

Today’s announcement is comparable to New Zealand’s response to the conflict in Yugoslavia in 1999 when we offered to take an extra 600 refugees.

The Government will continue to monitor the situation in Syria closely and review the possibility of further assistance during the 2016 quota review.


Note to Editors:

What is the process for the 600 additional places and how soon will the refugees arrive in New Zealand?

The process for the 600 additional places will be the same as any intake under the current quota.

The UNHCR carries out its own screening process and does not refer high risk or complex cases for resettlement.

In addition to this, all cases submitted for consideration undergo robust assessments as part of INZ’s decision-making process. That includes on and off-shore screening and assessment that focuses on credibility, risk and settlement to ensure that the person is not a security risk or character of concern to New Zealand, and that settlement in New Zealand is the right option for them.

INZ also specifically carries out its own security checks alongside NZSIS, biometric checks and health assessments.

INZ will undertake an initial mission to Lebanon in October and another in December for the current year. The first 100 selected for resettlement will arrive in New Zealand in three groups – anticipated to be January, March and May 2016.

What services are provided for refugees once they arrive in New Zealand?

Quota refugees are given permanent residence on arrival in New Zealand and spend their first six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre. While there, they complete a reception programme to support living and working in New Zealand and English language. They also complete medical and mental health assessments.

A number of government agencies and NGOs are involved in the settlement of quota refugees, including the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Development, Work and Income, Housing New Zealand, the Tertiary Education Commission, NZQA, Careers New Zealand, NZ Police, the Office of Ethnic Affairs, DIA and NZ Red Cross.

NZ Red Cross is contracted by Immigration NZ to provide settlement support in the community over the first 12 months. This includes an orientation programme and connecting refugees to services they require such as doctor’s appointments, English language, education and employment.

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