A positive first step on refugees

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne says today’s announcement that New Zealand will accept an additional 750 refugees over the next two and a half years is a positive first step.

“While this move will show New Zealand is prepared to play some role in alleviating the current crisis in Europe, it should not be at the expense an increase in the annual refugee quota to at least 1,000.

“The two go hand in hand, and there is still a need to adjust the annual quota, and I welcome the ongoing review that should result in such an adjustment,” he says.

Mr Dunne says the outpouring of support for the refugee cause in recent days shows New Zealanders are willing to see their country play its part.

“In particular, I note that more than 20 local authorities, as well as the major Churches, and various ethnic and community agencies, have expressed a willingness to play a role in resettling refugees.

“This task is a big one, and is not just for central government.

‘Therefore, I suggest an urgent task force be convened involving central and local government, the churches and relevant community groups to work together on placement, resettlement, employment, educational and health, language and housing issues, to ensure that the refugees who come here are able to settle quickly in our country.

“Such a partnership would not only help ensure a smooth transition for the refugees likely to come as a result of today’s announcement, but would make resettlement of refugees easier in the future, and would alleviate some of the additional costs the government is likely to incur.

“It would also demonstrate that our various communities are willing to play a practical part that goes beyond mere talk in helping resolve today’s major international problems – in a short, a win-win solution,” he says.

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