Unitedfuture leader, Hon Peter Dunne, is today restating his call for a smarter and more compassionate refugee programme in New Zealand.
“The current programme, where we set a quota of 750 refugees per year, has not been changed for about thirty years and in light of a global refugee crisis that baseline is proving too inflexible.
“While UnitedFuture strongly supports doubling the quota, we think we can be smarter about how we look at refugee resettlement as well and limit the costs of any such increase by engaging the community spirit of New Zealanders,” said Mr Dunne.
“Up and down the country, and in my own Ōhāriu electorate, I see the compassion of New Zealanders welcoming refugee families and putting their hands up to help those who need support.
“Our refugee programme should engage directly with that generous and inclusive spirit and allow communities to sponsor refugees in addition to our current quota.
Allowing private and community sponsorship of refugees is already a programme that exists in several countries and was endorsed in a 2015 Human Rights Commission and Red Cross report: New Zealand’s part in addressing the current global humanitarian crises: considering alternative methods of entry.
“This is not a new idea; it already occurs in Australia and other countries and would still be subject to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees vetting and our own Immigration security.
“Importantly, expanding the ability for communities to sponsor refugees would allow us to increase the numbers we take thereby sharing the global responsibility around refugee resettlement.
UnitedFuture is also supporting other alternative pathways to refugee resettlement that were cited in the Human Rights Commission and Red Cross report, namely an expansion of the family reunification category.
“Expanding the family reunification category to allow families to sponsor family members not only is good humanitarian policy, it also limits the financial burden on central Government,” said Mr Dunne
“Treating refugees as people recognises that they have family members who are also in need and allows those families to help each other.
“Our refugee quota should be increased but we should also utilise the community spirit of New Zealander’s who are eager to provide support to refugees by allowing communities a bigger role in our refugee system, that way our refugee policy can become more flexible, efficient and compassionate,” Mr Dunne concluded.