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Christchurch ready for refugees

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Christchurch is re-entering the Refugee Resettlement Programme after an almost eight-year hiatus.

Before the earthquakes Christchurch received 120 refugees every year across four intakes.

People holding a welcome sign.

Christchurch will welcome new refugees to the city for the first time in eight years.

But the resettlement of refugees in the city was suspended after the September 2010 earthquake, except for a limited number of family-linked cases, because the city’s housing supply, mental health and social services were under so much pressure.

Almost eight years on, the Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway has given approval for Christchurch to re-enter the Refugee Resettlement Programme.

"We’ve been eager to bring Christchurch back as a settlement location and after a comprehensive review, the Government is satisfied the rebuild has reached a point where the infrastructure can now enable refugees to be settled in the city once again,’’ the Minister announced today.

"The team at Immigration New Zealand has worked closely with Christchurch City Council to ensure refugees will be well-supported as they build their new lives in New Zealand. I acknowledge the leadership of Mayor Lianne Dalziel for her determined efforts to re-establish Christchurch for refugees.

The plan is for around 60 Quota refugees to be settled in Christchurch in the 2018/19 financial year. The groups initially being settled in Christchurch align with support from the former refugee communities already in the city.

The first group of around 20 Afghan and Eritrean quota refugees is expected to be settled in Christchurch in March 2019.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel is pleased Christchurch is again in a position to welcome refugees and to help them get a fresh start.

"Refugees have come from challenging environments and often need a lot of support. After the trauma of the earthquakes we really needed to focus on our own needs as a priority.

"Easing our way back into the resettlement programme with such a small number of refugees will ensure that the local resettlement organisations will be able to offer the appropriate level of support,’’ the Mayor says.

Cr Jimmy Chen, Chair of the Multicultural Committee, says re-joining the Refugee Resettlement Programme is evidence of the Multicultural Strategy in action and he is really pleased Christchurch can play a host role again.

"The new refugees that will arrive in Christchurch are coming from communities that are already established here. They will be able to support the new refugees and help them to integrate and start new lives here,’’ Cr Chen says.

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