Refugees under community sponsorship programme receive a warm welcome
Families from Somalia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Eritrea and Burma gathered at Hamilton’s Kirikiriroa Marae last week for a po¯ whiri to welcome them to their new city.
Joining them were people from the community organisations that support refugees to settle in New Zealand, Canada’s Minister of Refugees and Migration Ahmed Hussen, and New Zealand’s Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-galloway.
Both ministers spoke at the lunch following the po¯ whiri, emphasising the value refugees add to their new communities and the work of agencies such as Red Cross and Caritas providing the vital resettlement support ‘on the ground’. Mr Hussen also spoke of the importance of countries working in partnership to support both host countries and people needing resettlement.
One of the families at Sunday’s po¯ whiri came to New Zealand under the Community Sponsorship scheme, an initiative that’s been under way in Canada for more than 40 years and is currently being piloted here.
The scheme enables community-based organisations to resettle refugees in addition to New Zealand’s annual UNHCR quota.
Mr Lees-galloway said he was looking forward to seeing the evaluation of the pilot and developing the next steps. Mr Hussen was in New Zealand for a three-day visit before both ministers travelled to Australia to attend the annual Five Country Ministerial meeting on migration and security.
Four-year-old Maariya Ibrahin, whose parents came here from Somalia, with Canadian Minister of Refugees and Migration Ahmed Hussen and New Zealand Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-galloway at the powhiri in Hamilton.