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Special visas will help families realise their hopes

The Human Rights Commission warmly welcomes the government’s decision to offer non-residents directly affected by the Christchurch terrorist attacks the opportunity to apply for a special permanent resident visa.

New Zealand’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says, “In my time on the ground in Christchurch following the attacks, I have met single parents and parentless children who are dealing with the loss of loved ones and who also face grave uncertainty about the future. The government’s decision will help survivors do basic things we all take for granted, such as grocery shopping, weekend sports, visiting the cemetery, or getting to school or a hospital, without needless stress.”

The granting of permanent residence will ensure that all those affected and who are not already residents or citizens, are able to enjoy the rights of Zealand residents and citizens, including access to health care, social services and civic participation. Mr Hunt says, “Our long-term vision must be that these families will be fully included and able to participate in our community and that unnecessary obstacles are removed.”

The Commission has been closely working with local and national Muslim community leaders who also welcome the response.

Anwar Ghani, Chair of National and International Relations of Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) says, “We are delighted with our Government’s decision to offer residency to those who were directly affected by the terrorist act at Christchurch mosques. This indeed is a huge compassionate and considered gesture which will bring considerable relief to those individuals who have been anxious and very worried.”

Aliya Danzeisen, Chair of Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand (IWCNZ) said, "This is a positive step that has provided much relief to stressed families, many of whom will now have the family support they need during this difficult time".

Mr Hunt says this is an excellent response from government. However, going forward, it is vital that Muslim communities have active, informed and meaningful participation in every aspect of the government’s response to Christchurch. “The fundamental human rights slogan - 'Nothing about us, without us' - applies to the Muslim community post-15th March.”


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