While the world has its eyes fixed on Australia’s moves in the asylum seeker controversy, New Zealand announces it should welcome many more refugees to its shores. Australia has a controversial policy of holding refugees in neighbouring countries, and for enacting a law that allows authorities to detain asylum seekers who come in mass arrivals.
Speaking from Wellington at a national refugee resettlement forum Susan Devoy, a race relations official, said that New Zealand needed to step up their refugee intake.
The country’s refugee intake has remained the same for about 27 years. “Compared to the rest of the world, per capita we don’t make the top 10. We don’t even make the top 50,” Devoy said in speech published on the New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s website.
“If there was a World Cup for nations that provide homes and hope for refugees and asylum seekers, we wouldn’t even qualify.”
She stated in her speech that New Zealand could accept more of the 33 million displaced people in the world.
“This is part of our responsibilities as an international citizen. The thing is, I can call on governments to do things until I’m blue in the face, but without the will of everyday people, governments are unlikely to make change on their own,” she said.
“The reality is that all of us are responsible for human rights in New Zealand us as individuals need to walk the talk and call for change.”
“Refugees are everyday people who’ve faced extraordinary hardship,” said Devoy adding that, “it’s everyday New Zealanders who need to stand up and call for an increase in our refugee quota.”
Renewing their agreement with the United Nations refugee agency New Zealand agreed to cater for 750 refugees every year for the next three years.
Confirming Devoy’s comments Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said that 40 % of the 750 places would be designated to refugees from the Asia- Pacific region, and 40 % to refugees from the rest of the world, “namely Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.”
The remaining 20% of the available space would be dedicated to the resettlement of Kiwi’s, currently in Australia, back in New Zealand .