Immigration New Zealand must immediately stop deporting Tongan overstayers to the cyclone-ravaged islands of Ha’apai on humanitarian grounds, Labour’s Pacific Islands Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio says.
“It is inhumane for immigration authorities to deport a Tongan woman with a heart and thyroid condition whose doctor has said she is unfit to fly.
“The woman, who doesn’t want to be named, has told media the nearest hospital to her Ha’apai home doesn’t have the facilities to treat people with heart problems.
“Immigration New Zealand is putting her life at risk.
“The Tongan Advisory Council has described the situation in the Ha’apai islands – where 5000 people were displaced and 800 homes destroyed by Cyclone Ian – as ‘bleak’.
“Island residents are surviving on donations from the New Zealand Tongan community which has sent 10 container loads of food and water.
“Pacific Islands Affairs Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga needs to step in and order Immigration New Zealand to call a temporary halt to deporting people back to the Ha’apai islands.
“When Labour first called for a halt to these deportations last week, the Minister said he needed genuine examples before he took action. He now has no excuse and should do the right thing,” Su’a William Sio says.