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Christchurch reinstated as refugee settlement location

Christchurch reinstated as refugee settlement location

The announcement that Christchurch can once again be a settlement location for refugees represents an important step for New Zealand’s ambitions to increase the refugee quota, and is a milestone for the city’s post-earthquake recovery, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

“It’s great news for refugees, New Zealand and Christchurch itself to be re-established as a refugee settlement location. It shows the city is once again able to welcome some of the world’s vulnerable people and let them be part of a fantastic place to live.

“There is an extraordinary number of people around the world who need refuge and New Zealand is determined to play its part. Today will go some way to help us achieve lifting our refugee quota to 1500 per year in this term of Government.

“Except for a limited number of family-linked cases, the settlement of Quota refugees in Christchurch was suspended following the September 2010 earthquake, due to the impact on services such as health and housing.

“We’ve been eager to bring Christchurch back as a settlement location, and after a comprehensive review the Government is satisfied the rebuild has reached a point where the infrastructure can now enable refugees to be settled in the City once again.

“The team at Immigration NZ has worked closely with Christchurch City Council to ensure refugees will be well-supported as they build their new lives in New Zealand. I acknowledge the leadership of Mayor Lianne Dalziel for her determined efforts to re-establish Christchurch for refugees.

“The whole of Government assessment considered employment, housing and Government services available alongside the support provided by the local community.

“The plan is for around 60 Quota refugees to be settled in Christchurch in the 2018/19 financial year. The groups initially being settled in Christchurch align with support from the former refugee communities already in the city.”

The first group of around 20 Afghan and Eritrean quota refugees is expected to be settled in Christchurch in March 2019.

Prior to the first group being settled, service providers, City Council and local communities will have the opportunity to participate in training to further develop their capacity to support refugee settlement.

“There are currently seven settlement locations in New Zealand where quota refugees are settled after they have completed the six week reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre: Auckland region, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington region, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill,” says Mr Lees-Galloway.

Note to editors:
• 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.
• The Government made significant investments in refugee support in Budget 2018, providing $14 million in new funding to build and operate two new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, and nearly $4 million in additional funding for the Refugee and Protection Unit.
• NZ Red Cross is contracted by INZ 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.
• The decision was made by the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy Senior Officials’ Group - made up of representatives from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Office of Ethnic Communities and Department of Internal Affairs.

[Ends]

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