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Refugee resettlement support strengthened

Refugee resettlement support strengthened

Increased funding for the Refugee and Migrant Service announced in the Budget is welcome recognition of the crucial role RMS plays in refugee resettlement, said RMS Director, Peter Cotton.

RMS is the non-governmental organisation responsible for supporting the 750 refugees selected for resettlement here each year by the government through the UN. Since beginning work in 1975 RMS has helped over 30,000 former refugees start new lives in New Zealand.

Peter Cotton said inadequate funding over recent years meant RMS had struggled to provide the level of support needed in an increasingly complex environment. “For example New Zealand’s commitment to provide solutions for refugees within the region, i.e. detainees on Nauru and Manus Islands meant intakes in recent years contained a high percentage of single males. This presented us with major challenges as their needs were distinctly different to those of family groups with whom we’ve traditionally worked.”

He said the extra funding would strengthen the social worker and cross-cultural worker capacity of RMS during the crucial early stages of resettlement.

“Our cross-cultural workers are former refugees who help newly arrived refugees from their own cultures interpret the complexities of New Zealand life through their own language and in the context of their own culture. They work with our social workers and trained volunteers to help refugees establish independent lives in the community.”

So far this year over 450 refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have begun resettlement in New Zealand with assistance from RMS.

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