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John Key’s discussion on asylum seekers welcomed

John Key’s discussion on asylum seekers welcomed by refugee organisation

9th February 2013

ChangeMakers Refugee Forum welcomes today’s announcement that John Key will raise the issue of asylum seekers with his Australian counterpart, Julia Gillard, in discussions this weekend.

‘While we believe it’s highly unlikely that boats carrying asylum seekers are going to be arriving on our shores this is obviously an issue in Australia and one that has polarised public opinion. To see our Government willing to take initiative on asylum seekers is great’ says Tim O’Donovan, General Manager of ChangeMakers Refugee Forum.

‘ We hope that the willingness to discuss the issue will result in action to address the incredibly difficult situation that many of these people face. This situation has recently been highlighted by the UNHCR who expressed grave concerns about the detention of children on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and the mental health of many of those detained there. ’

‘John Key is right. We need to be thinking about regional solutions to this issue. But such discussions need to be underpinned by the international commitments that New Zealand and Australia have made and ensure that asylum seekers are not subject to punitive measures while their claim for asylum is being processed.’

‘The facts are very clear’ says O’Donovan ‘over 90% of people who arrive on a boat seeking asylum in Australia are recognised as refugees. The majority of these people are fleeing persecution. This fact has often been lost in the public discussions on asylum seekers.’

ChangeMakers and the National Refugee Network are about to undertake research on people who have successfully claimed asylum in Aotearoa New Zealand. ‘The research focuses on the extent to which people who have been granted asylum here have been able to re-build their lives. Once completed, the research can be used as a basis for decision makers across the sector to ensure that these new New Zealanders can participate fully in their new home’ says O’Donovan.

ChangeMakers Refugee Forum is a rights-based NGO that works with over 14 different refugee-backgrounds groups in the greater Wellington region.

ENDS

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