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Government Must Front Up on Refugees

Christian World Service
Media Release - For Immediate Release

3 September 2015

Christian World Service is asking the government to stop hiding behind the promised review of the refugee quota and respond to the grim situation facing families fleeing war and persecution. It is supporting calls to Double the Quota.

“There is no reasonable excuse for its inaction. Under international law, refugees have the right to protection and New Zealanders are showing they are willing to help. As a member of the Security Council New Zealand needs to front up now, not next year,” says Pauline McKay, National Director.

UN Security Council members receive up-to-date reports on global conflict and the refugee situation.

“Neighbouring countries like Lebanon and Jordan cannot cope with the numbers. Not enough money has been given to UN agencies to meet refugee needs and it is getting much harder to meet their needs. The situation demands a compassionate response rather than deliberate denial of facts,” she adds.

Turkey has taken in 1.6 million Syrian refugees at a cost of over US$4.5 billion. Over 1.1 million refugees are in Lebanon where 38% of 75,000 households assessed were identified as highly or severely vulnerable.

On 1 September the Under Secretary for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien told a Syria Top Donor’s meeting that aid agencies had received only a third of funding needed to fulfil its assistance plan. CWS believes New Zealand should also contribute more to humanitarian relief.

NZ is ranked 90th in the world for its help to refugees on a per capita basis.

New Zealand churches played a leading role in settling refugees over many decades. They have helped thousands of people become valued members of the country.

People are also fleeing conflicts in parts of Africa and Asia. The UNHCR reports more than 2.6 million people have been displaced by conflict in South Sudan. Over 300,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea this year.

“More needs to be done to break up the people smuggling rings and prosecute the people making profits out of human misery,” she continues.

Christian World Service partners are providing vital aid to Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, including food, fuel, water, clothing, shelter, healthcare and recreational activities for children.

The United Nations Human Commissioner for Refugees released figures showing record numbers of refugees in 2014. In total a staggering 59.5 million people had fled their homes, up 8.3 million from 2013. One in every 122 persons on the planet is a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum.

Donations to Christian World Service Syria Appeal can be made at: http://cws.org.nz/donate by phone: 0800 74 73 72 or by post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140

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