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Refugee Advocates Respond To Peters

Refugee Advocates Respond To Peters

On Monday morning of this week on “Breakfast”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, made a number of misleading, inaccurate and very emotive comments on refugee resettlement in New Zealand. His sweeping statements need some balance and our National Manager of External Relations Peter Cotton is available to talk about our proud history of welcoming refugees to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Many former refugees and their advocates will have been greatly offended at the tenor of Mr Peters attitude towards some of the world’s most vulnerable citizens - who through no fault of their own, become refugees. Over the past 60 years, more than 40,000 former refugees have successfully resettled in New Zealand. Overcoming barriers of language and multiple-loss, they have helped build our nation with their hard work, determination and desire to contribute to their new homeland. Former refugees, their children and grandchildren, continue to contribute to the economic and social wealth of the country and can be found in virtually every sector of society.

An example of Mr Peters misleading words is his comment on the so called “Tampa Boys” bringing members of their families to New Zealand . . as if this was out of the ordinary and something we should not encourage. He implied we had no responsibility to reunite these young men with members of their immediate families. . . suggesting that their subsequent arrival had placed un-anticipated additional and undesirable burdens on taxpayers. These things are simply not true. Prime Minister, Helen Clark’s welcome intervention and assistance in brokering an international solution for the “Tampa crisis” was followed by a Government commitment to reunite these young men with members of their immediate family at the earliest opportunity. This was in line with both Government and UNHCR policy, which recognizes the vital importance that family reunion plays in successful settlement and integration of refugees.

Every family member of the “Tampa Boys”, who subsequently arrived in New Zealand was admitted as part of (not in addition to) the annual Refugee quota of 750. The arrival of these family members in no way added an additional burden to tax-payers or service providers. It is also worthy of note that all these young men have since gained NZ citizenship and most have demonstrated an excellent record of successful settlement and integration.


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