New Zealand Red Cross welcomes the recent announcement of resuming the refugee quota – this is needed now more than ever and it will save lives.
The plan to settle 210 people is a promising start and New Zealand Red Cross is hopeful the Government will now prioritise meeting its policy of settling 1,500 people annually.
“Since March 2020, when New Zealand borders closed, until today, 1,217 people due to come here haven’t arrived, so we have a lot of catching up to do,” says Rachel O’Connor, New Zealand Red Cross’ General Manager Migration.
New Zealand’s Refugee Quota Programme has been on pause due to the global impacts of COVID-19. From March to October 2020, no refugees entered the country. In mid-October 2020, the New Zealand Government agreed to resettle a limited number of refugee quota cases under emergency priority. New Zealand Red Cross believes resettlement is now more important than ever.
“This is about giving hope to people who have no options. At the moment there are over a thousand people who have been accepted but were unable to come to New Zealand due to travel and border restrictions. The fact that they haven’t arrived has left many of them in very unsafe situations. New Zealand needs to fulfil its commitment and help people get to safety,” adds Rachel.
Refugee resettlement saves lives and adds both economic and social value to New Zealand. Refugees have a drive to give back as they make Aotearoa their home. During lockdown, New Zealand saw many former refugees working in essential services, including in healthcare, retail and transportation.
“We’re in a privileged position in New Zealand where we can make decisions around who comes into the country safely, so we must not forget people who need our help,” says Rachel.