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Government Misleading People Over Fiji Refugees

12 August 2000

Government Misleading People Over Fiji Refugees

United New Zealand leader, Hon Peter Dunne, says the Government is misleading people over its approach to refugees from Fiji.

He says Ministers keep stressing their commitment to assist Fijian families at risk but their rhetoric does not fit the reality of what is happening.

"I have previously expressed concern that the New Zealand Immigration Service Office in Suva is not presently open to the public, only to be reassured by the Government that while the office may be physically closed for safety reasons, it is still dealing with cases by telephone."

"I have been advised previously that people in Fiji wishing to visit to New Zealand at present must lodge their applications through Suva, where they will be processed as soon as possible."

"All these assurances are now worthless, and are untrue."

"I have now discovered that the Suva office is not accepting any applications, other than those where matters of genuine family emergency or illness are concerned, and even those are only being accepted on one day each week."

"Moreover, the applications are not even being processed in Suva, but are being bundled up to be dealt with in Hamilton," he says.

Mr Dunne says that these developments make a mockery of the Government's professed sympathy for the victims of the Fiji coup, and are causing huge resentment amongst both the local Indian Fijian community, and their families in New Zealand.

"They feel badly let down by the New Zealand Government, and their frustration at the situation is mounting."

"I think the Government should immediately assemble a special team of officials and send it to Suva at once to help sort the situation out quickly and fairly, so that not the backlog but also the genuine applications from Fijians wishing to come to New Zealand are held up no longer," he says.

ENDS


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