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Organisations call on Govt to act on growing refugee crisis ahead of forum - Amnesty International

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A collective of former refugee leaders, resettlement, human rights, faith-based and humanitarian organisations have signed and sent an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. The letter asks the Government to better include refugee voices in policymaking, increase the number of places available under the Refugee Family Support Category and to establish the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship category as a permanent pathway in New Zealand’s broader refugee and humanitarian programme.

The calls come ahead of the inaugural Global Refugee Forum (taking place in Geneva on December 17th and 18th, 2019), which is an outcome of the Global Compact on Refugees which New Zealand is signed to. Amnesty International Executive Director Meg de Ronde will also be attending the Forum to share the huge potential of community sponsorship of refugees in New Zealand.

The Forum (which will be held every four years) represents a significant opportunity for states and non-state actors to work together to respond to the challenges and opportunities of international forced displacement, and to uphold the rights and dignity of refugees around the world.

Amnesty International Policy and Advocacy Manager Annaliese Johnston says the letter both commends and critiques the Government’s work.

"Increasing the quota to 1,500 people per year, the piloting of the Community Sponsorship of Refugees programme as a complementary pathway and the removal of the discriminatory family-link policy are all moves that ensure more families can live together and have a safe place to call home."

But Johnston says New Zealand’s leading organisations in the refugee space are asking the Government to do more.

"With the number of refugees worldwide now well over 25 million it’s clear we need to do more and New Zealand isn’t doing its part. In fact we’re even lagging behind Australia when we look at the number of refugees accepted per capita. The fact that so many prominent organisations have signed this open letter should be a show of the overwhelming support and will for New Zealand to be doing more."

She says the solutions are already clearly defined.

"We would like to see more of the refugee community better involved in policymaking and we would like to see the permanent implementation of the Government’s Community Sponsorship of Refugees programme. It’s a programme that’s had huge success overseas and it connects communities with families who’ve sought refuge in New Zealand so effectively that people are making life-long friends. We know it works. It doesn’t divide people it connects people, is the antidote to xenophobia, and is especially important post Christchurch."

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