Kiwis come out in support of more refugees
80% of New Zealanders surveyed this week by campaigning organisation ActionStation supported an immediate emergency intake of refugees from Syria, and an increase in the ongoing refugee quota.
“A significant majority of the people who responded to our survey felt that increasing our refugee quota would be a compassionate and constructive way for New Zealand to do our bit in response to the war in Iraq and Syria,” said ActionStation Director Marianne Elliott
Yesterday ActionStation teamed up with advocacy group Doing Our Bit to launch a campaign calling on the government to create an immediate intake of 100 refugees from Syria, and to work towards doubling the ongoing refugee quota. Hundreds of New Zealanders have already come out in support of the petition.
The Prime Minister yesterday told reporters that if we took more refugees it would be more difficult to make sure they got the support they need.
“This was one of the reasons offered by the minority of our members who did not support the petition,” said Elliott, “and our members were clear that any increase in the number of refugees taken into New Zealand would require an increase in the associated funding to support resettlement.”
The core budget for providing support and resettlement services to the 750 quota refugees currently taken in by New Zealand each year is $9 million, so the funds needed to double the intake would be less than the cost of the proposed flag redesign process. The immediate cost of providing safe haven to 100 of the most vulnerable of the 4 millions Syrian refugees would be considerably less. There are also long term costs in terms of housing, education and health care, but these are not sunk costs: They go towards the creation of new citizens who also pay taxes and contribute to society.
“The equivalent of the entire population of New Zealand has been forced to flee their home due to violence in Syria in the past four years,” says ActionStation Director Marianne Elliott, “and our members have told us that providing a safe refuge to 100 of the most vulnerable of those people is a more urgent and important use for public funds than a redesign of the flag.”
New Zealand's refugee quota has not increased in 28 years. In that time our population has grown by 39% (or 1.3 million people). The United Nations ranks New Zealand at 87th in the world for hosting refugees per capita. When adjusted for our relative wealth we rank at 113th in the world. Even Australia accepts over three times more refugees per capita than New Zealand.
If we doubled our quota we would still only be ranked as 78th in the world for hosting per capita and would sit between Ghana (77th) and Bulgaria (currently 78th).
“We would not be world leaders,” said Doing Our Bit founder Murdoch Stephens, “but we would be much closer to doing our fair share. In recent weeks the Prime Minister told New Zealanders that our country had to 'do our bit' in the international effort to defeat ISIS, but we are not doing our bit when it comes to offering refuge and support to people forced by violence to flee their homes.”