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A One-Off Emergency Refugee In-Take Won’t Cut It

A One-Off Emergency Refugee In-Take Won’t Cut It

Tracey Barnett

“A one-off emergency refugee in-take to New Zealand won’t cut it,” said Tracey Barnett, founder of WagePeaceNZ, a refugee awareness initiative that has been campaigning to double New Zealand’s annual quota. “It would reflect a hollow commitment to doing more on the world stage in the long-term.”

New Zealand currently ranks 90th in the world for the total number of refugees it hosts.

“The Prime Minister will be considering several options. One would be to commit fully to increasing the quota permanently. Another might be to up foreign aid to help Syrians, for example, but not touch the quota level. Still another would be to increase the number of Syrians New Zealand accepts, but simply shuffle that number as part of the existing quota.”

“Months ago, when the New Zealand government chose to spend $65 million to send another small deployment to Iraq, our Prime Minister chastised his opponents to ‘get some guts’. If our Prime Minister merely reshuffles the existing numbers of refugees we take to include more Syrians, that would indeed signal that our government is out of touch with the New Zealand public’s overwhelming support to do more.”

A recent RadioLive poll put New Zealand support of taking more refugees at 82 percent.

Barnett said, “Equally problematic is making the choice to simply do a one-off in-take. That means that the service providers within New Zealand cannot properly sustain amping up their resources, particularly if they recognise that additional trained personnel cannot be maintained in the medium and long term.

If you are going to build a solid foundation to help give refugees productive lives in New Zealand, you have to do it responsibly and well.”

“The best option remains doubling the quota immediately, coupling that with a full commitment to doubling refugee support by the government,” said Barnett.

“The greatest mistake our government could do right now is underestimate the quiet power of the silent majority of New Zealanders who see the images of children being washed up on the morning tide on Turkish beaches and ask, how can we help?”

ends

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