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Refugee advocacy group calls for permanent quota increase

Refugee advocacy group renews calls for permanent quota increase

A one-off quota increase is the absolute minimum the government could offer, according to Doing Our Bit, a campaign to double New Zealand’s annual refugee quota.

Doing Our Bit spokesperson Murdoch Stephens said that while he welcomes the 600 new emergency places, he would be very disappointed if National thought that it was sufficient.

“Our calls to double the quota to 1500 annually are not an unconsidered response to a heart-wrenching image.”

“Our call to double the quota is based on New Zealand’s 40% population growth since 1987 and 75% decrease in accepted asylum seekers since a peak around 2001. It is the least we can do and the government has been dragging the chain on this since we started the campaign in June 2013.”

On Tuesday the Green Party will put forward a bill asking for the annual quota to be raised to 1000 places. Stephens wants to see that bill go to Select Committee and be worked on in an open and transparent manner, with service provider input.

“Cabinet has consistently failed to show leadership on this matter despite overwhelming support for an increase from confidence and supply partners and their youth wing. Across the country, a coalition of NGOs, academics, refugee organisations, media, prominent New Zealanders, and the mayors of our major cities have called for raising the quota, most of whom agree with a doubling,” said Stephens.

In terms of the new places for Syrian refugees, Stephens suggests it needs to be considered in the terms of a crisis that is already into its fifth year.

“So far we’ve only filled 83 places over four years of civil war. We can’t make up for that gross indifference with a piecemeal one-off increase spread across three years.”

There are a number of other changes the group advocated for:
• Once doubled, New Zealand’s refugee quota needs to be tied to population growth so as to depoliticise the process.
• An independent review of funding needs to occur with refugee voices at the centre of the process.
• We must lift restrictions in place since 2009 on new refugees from the Middle East and Africa which has seen their numbers more than halved. The UN notes those from this region are the most in need of protection.
• There need to be more active measures whereby non-refugee Syrians and others at risk can help their families come to New Zealand.

END

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