Budget Opens Door For Community Sponsorship Of Refugees
The Government’s Rebuilding Together Budget includes funding to extend the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship (CORS) pilot for a further three years.
New Zealand conducted a small pilot of this programme, which in 2018 welcomed 23 people seeking refuge to rebuild their lives here in Aotearoa. The programme is different to the standard Refugee Quota programme. With Community Sponsorship, it is community groups that take the lead and provide the support that newcomers need.
Amnesty International’s report COMMUNITY SPONSORSHIP OF REFUGEES: New Zealand’s Pilot Programme and its Potential documented the successes, challenges and great potential the programme has to effectively open the door to more people who have been forced to flee their homes, while making our own communities stronger and more welcoming in the process. In 2018, more than 10,000 New Zealanders signed the I Welcome Pledge, calling for the programme to be made permanent.
Meg de Ronde, Executive Director of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, says, "Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the leadership from Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, as well as all the amazing people at Immigration New Zealand and the community groups, NGO’s, faith-based organisations and compassionate New Zealanders who helped to make this happen."
De Ronde says, "We’re thrilled with the news that the Government has responded to public demand for Community Sponsorship of Refugees. Everybody deserves the dignity of a safe place to call home. What we’ve seen and heard from community groups and newcomers over the past two years has been truly heartwarming."
Community Sponsorship is complementary to the existing Refugee Quota programme. It’s an alternative pathway. People who come to New Zealand through Community Sponsorship are in addition to those who come through the Refugee Quota. The community groups that sponsor them can be sports teams, businesses, book clubs, churches, social enterprises, or anyone willing to get a few people together and commit to providing a range of supports for new families.
De Ronde says, "Kiwis want to help. There are more refugees than at any time since World War II and this gives everyday New Zealanders the chance to really be part of the solution. At the same time, the bonds that form are deeply meaningful - people are uniting in common cause, becoming closer with each other, as together they welcome a new family into their lives. It’s heartwarming.
"Today, let’s celebrate collectively building a more inclusive, diverse, welcoming and compassionate Aotearoa."