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A hidden issue: Aotearoa NZ’s ‘twilight’ refugees

For Immediate Release
9TH December 2013

A hidden issue: Aotearoa NZ’s ‘twilight’ population of refugees

Aotearoa NZ has created a ‘twilight’ population of refugees who have severely limited access to support services both before and after being recognised as Convention refugees and gaining Permanent Residency according to new research conducted by ChangeMakers Refugee Forum and the National Refugee Network.

The research – based on interviews with 18 people who have successfully claimed asylum and staff from agencies working with asylum seekers – found systemic information and service delivery gaps with research participants facing an array of challenges to claiming asylum and permanent residency.

Despite having their claim for refugee status recognised, successful asylum seekers, known as Convention refugees, are eligible to few of the support mechanisms available to refugees who are resettled part of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees refugee quota programme (i.e. quota refugees). As one research participant stated:

It’s you by yourself. You have no one who can guide you.

According to Alia Bloom, Research Coordinator at ChangeMakers, Aotearoa NZ is barely meeting its international commitments recognising the right of people to claim and enjoy asylum. ‘As a country we provide a very basic level of support for people claiming asylum and those recognised as Convention refugees. Our research found that even at this most basic level there were inequities and inconsistencies regarding information about support mechanisms and how they could be accessed.’

The research will be launched on International Human Rights Day 10th December 2013. It includes a number of recommendations on how the issues facing asylum seekers and Convention refugees can be addressed.

ENDS

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