NZ Youth to challenge refugee quota policy
New Zealand youth to meet with Iain Lees-Galloway tomorrow to challenge refugee quota policy
Hundreds of young people across New Zealand are calling on the government to lift restrictions in the refugee quota system, which make it difficult for refugees from Africa and the Middle East to find protection here.
Tomorrow morning a group of World Vision youth advocates, including a former South Sudanese refugee, will hand over 750 letters from young people to Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway calling for a change in refugee policy to reflect global humanitarian needs.
Under the government’s current refugee quota system:
o Only 15% of the 1000 people selected for resettlement each year can come from the Middle East; only 17% from Africa. 50% are to come from the Asia-Pacific, the rest from the Americas.
o Refugees from the Middle East and Africa can only be accepted for resettlement in New Zealand if they already have family in the country (a “pre-existing family link”).
“These restrictions make it almost impossible for new refugees from Africa and the Middle East to find protection in New Zealand,” says World Vision Advocacy Manager Carsten Bockemuehl. “The greatest refugee needs worldwide are currently in Africa and the Middle East, and yet our government policy means that we can offer very limited help to refugees fleeing these conflicts who are most in need of our support.”
In a report accompanying the letters, World Vision points out that there has been a large reduction of African and Middle Eastern refugees given protection in New Zealand. Annual intakes from Africa have occasionally gone down to single figures, for example in 2014/15 when only 1% of our intake came from Africa. New Zealand has resettled only 12 refugees from South Sudan in New Zealand since 2011 due to this policy (nine in 2017-18, three in 2013-14).
The group presenting the handover to Minister Lees-Galloway will include Clench Enoka, a South Sudanese refugee, now settled in New Zealand.
“In 2003, I came to New Zealand with my family. It was a difficult adjustment. But more importantly, it was an escape from war. Today, I’m a proud Kiwi. I’m proud of a country that has given my family a chance to live. But I’m also frustrated that the government has stopped accepting refugees from Africa and the Middle East who don’t already have family members in New Zealand,” says Enoka.
“A third of South Sudan’s population have been forced flee their homes. Half of them are children. Yet since 2011, New Zealand has only accepted twelve South Sudanese. Twelve! That is not enough.”