Pacific Media Watch

21 March 2015

NZ: 'Accept more refugees' call from Dame Susan Devoy

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Dame Susan Devoy ... "We haven't increased our quota for over 30 years." Image: Māori TV

AUCKLAND (New Zealand Herald/Pacific Media Watch): Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy will today call for New Zealand to increase its quota of refugees.

Dame Susan will speak at a function hosted by the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae at Government House in Auckland on Race Relations Day.

"We haven't increased our quota for over 30 years and the world is in the biggest crisis ever of displaced people, 51 million or so," she said.

She said she was encouraged by the New Zealand Herald and World Vision campaign, which has so far raised $222,000 to help the estimated 12 million left homeless by the war in Syria, but wants New Zealand to also accept more refugees.

"I look at the situation in Syria and I look at our government sending troops to Iraq and I wonder what else we should be doing as a country.

"What are our international obligations? Because it is all very well to send money but we have the capacity to accept more refugees."

Dame Susan said New Zealand did a very good job settling the refugees we did accept.

Each year New Zealand accepts 750 refugees as part of an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, whereby their status has been mandated by the UNHCR. New Zealand is one of fewer than 20 countries to offer a resettlement programme and has done so for more than 20 years.

Additional refugees have been accepted in exceptional circumstances when requested by UNHCR.

Four hundred arrived in 1999 in response to a humanitarian crisis in Kosovo and two years later New Zealand took 130 Afghans picked up by the freighter MS Tampa after their craft capsized in the Indian Ocean.

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