Why the world

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

jobs and hous­ing.

In 2015, New Zealand com­mit­ted to re­set­tling 500 Syr­i­ans over two years on top of the an­nual quota of 750. Those two one-off in­takes have now been com­pleted. And in 2016, fol­low­ing public calls dur­ing the Syr­ian refugee cri­sis, the Na­tional gov­ern­ment lifted the quota to 1000 – the first in­crease in 30 years. This new quota will come into ef­fect on July 1.

The Labour-green con­fi­dence and sup­ply agree­ment also in­cludes the prom­ise to ‘‘re­view, and ad­e­quately fund and sup­port, the fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion scheme for refugees’’. Cur­rently, only im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­bers of refugees are ac­cepted un­der the re­uni­fi­ca­tion pro­gramme, and this has to be funded by refugee fam­i­lies. Mean­while, Bud­get 2018 in­cluded money to ex­pand the stretched Man­gere Re­set­tle­ment Cen­tre, as well as re­sources to deal with cost pres­sures re­lat­ing to an in­crease in asy­lum and pro­tec­tion claims, and hous­ing sup­port for quota refugees.

This came in the form of $6.2 mil­lion of new op­er­at­ing fund­ing over the next four years, plus $7.7m of new cap­i­tal, to build and op­er­ate two new ac­com­mo­da­tion blocks at the cen­tre.

Lees-gal­loway says there are still some peo­ple stay­ing longer than they should in the re­set­tle­ment cen­tre, due to hous­ing pres­sures. But he ex­pects pres­sures to be al­le­vi­ated, with Christchurch com­ing back on­line as a re­set­tle­ment city, for the first time in eight years, and the ad­di­tion of In­ver­cargill. that it’s only luck that means that we our­selves aren’t need­ing this kind of pro­tec­tion. The peo­ple that are flee­ing, it could be you and I.’’

Ardern, as well as cam­paign­ing on dou­bling the refugee quota, has also spo­ken out strongly against Aus­tralia’s de­ten­tion of refugees and asy­lum-seek­ers on Manus

Is­land, in Pa­pua New Guinea, and on Nauru.

She has reaf­firmed New Zealand’s po­si­tion on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, and of­fered to take up to 150 of the refugees. When met with back­lash from Aus­tralian politi­cians and me­dia, she said it was more im­por­tant to do what was right than what was pop­u­lar.

De Ronde says she is re­lieved to hear Ardern speak out so strongly on the world stage on the plight of the refugees in Manus and Nauru.

‘‘I do think words re­ally mat­ter . . . Ac­tions do mat­ter too, and we’ll wait to see what hap­pens with the quota in­crease. We’re look­ing to them to make good on that prom­ise.’’ so­cial, eco­nomic and cul­tural ben­e­fits, for both the com­mu­nity and the re­set­tled refugees.

The groups will pro­vide ser­vices such as the pro­vi­sion of fur­nished hous­ing; help­ing refugees nav­i­gate their com­mu­nity and the ser­vices they need (such as en­rolling in GPS and school­ing); English lan­guage classes; and sup­port to­wards paid em­ploy­ment and self-suf­fi­ciency.

New Zealand’s pi­lot, mod­elled on a pro­gramme used in Canada for 30 years, has been specif­i­cally named in the draft of a global refugee strat­egy be­ing cre­ated by the United Na­tions.

De Ronde wants to see the pro­gramme be­come part of the land­scape. ‘‘Glob­ally we are be­ing watched to see how our pi­lot goes . . . In­ter­na­tion­ally this is quite a per­ti­nent is­sue at the mo­ment.’’

It is a chance for New Zealand to be proud of things such as its com­mu­nity spon­sor­ship pro­gramme, and its strong stance on hu­man­i­tar­ian is­sues.

The pi­lot will be re­viewed by De­cem­ber, when a de­ci­sion will be made about whether to roll it out fur­ther.

Na­tional im­mi­gra­tion spokesman Michael Wood­house says there is a ‘‘gen­eros­ity of spirit’’ in Kiwi com­mu­ni­ties, which the Gov­ern­ment should utilise.

Dur­ing the Syr­ian cri­sis, there were some ‘‘quite naive but quintessen­tially Kiwi’’ of­fers of help, he says.

Both he and De Ronde say New Zealand should rely on the com­mu­nity tak­ing more re­spon­si­bil­ity for refugee re­set­tle­ment.

While it seems in­creas­ing the quota is the right thing to do as a good in­ter­na­tional cit­i­zen, there are other con­sid­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing hous­ing, re­set­tle­ment ser­vices and Gov­ern­ment fund­ing. It costs the Gov­ern­ment about $100,000 per refugee each year for the first three years.

Mean­while, there is a lack of af­ford­able hous­ing in some re­set­tle­ment towns, in­clud­ing Auck­land, with al­most 8000

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