Support for Convention Refugees

Yesterday Changemakers Refugee Forum released a report highlighting the denial of support to convention refugees. I am stoked they’ve done this. They’ve explained the issue in a way that is so easy to understand and makes the injustice and nonsense of it so clear.

Almost all refugees start out as asylum seekers, but some find asylum and get refugee status in places with overwhelming numbers of refugees and end up in refugee camps and then have to get resettled in a third country through the UN quota system. Quota refugees account for about 1% of the world’s refugees.

New Zealand only takes up to 750 quota refugees every year and we’ve made it pretty tough for people to seek asylum (to become convention refugees) at the border here. Only around 100 a year are now granted refugee status within New Zealand. This is compared to 1.3 million people from Syria who have found refuge in Lebanon.

The National government has made a distinction between convention and quota refugees even though they are considered equal under the UN Refugee Convention.

In New Zealand convention refugees can’t access education, full healthcare, or main welfare benefits until they gain full residency, which can take years.

In response to the report yesterday which clearly outlines the impacts of this policy a spokesperson for the Minister of Immigration said the government will consider extending its resettlement services to convention refugees in the future. This is disingenuous. This government cut funding to convention refugees and made a policy decision to exclude them from the development of the refugee strategy.

I have raised concerns with the Minister as have all the organisations working in this area.

The Minister can’t just say he’ll consider it in the future. He needs to either rectify it as fast as is possible or at least be honest and front up and try to justify his discrimination.

1 Comment Posted

  1. I worked for ten years for the Inter Church Commission on Refugees at Mangere Hostel. This was from 1980 to 1990, in those days people who arrived and asked for asylum were frequently passed on to us,(They were bot part of the 750 from the UN) we had a house where they could stay.

    Once here and under discussion they did receive money. Since then government has become harsher and treats them much worse, many who arrive by plane without a passport, yes they still tear the false one up and chuck it down the loo after boarding, are held in a cell and deported.

    Since the time when we accepted some asylum seekers and now, the law has allowed wealthy people to buy their way into our country and China’s one child law has made it possible for a young Chinese who has gained residence to bring in both parents,

    There are a lot of injustices about and it is good to see someone speaking out. I do not suggest that we open our doors to millions of refugees, but most of those who arrived between 1978 and 1990 have gone on to work hard, start businesses and their kids have done well at school.
    If someone arrives and asks for asylum the least we can do is see they have enough to feed and clothe themselves and send their kids to school while their case is tried.

    After all elderly parents brought in under reunification of families are immediately granted a Gold Card,

    I shall never understand how people who are in dire need get treated the way the Australian authorities treat them. If the governments went after the scumbags who make money bringing in refugees it would stem the flow

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