Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand is applauding the Government’s announcement of the removal of the family-link policy today. It’s also pledged $6.6 million over four years to go towards the Welcoming Communities programme.
Amnesty International’s Policy and Advocacy Manager Annaliese Johnston says the family-link policy was a discriminatory and ill-informed policy.
“This is a historical wrong that’s now been made right, thanks to the tireless advocacy of many, including former refugee voices who have bravely spoken up. This will mean that New Zealand will now better consider humanitarian need when it selects which families receive refuge in New Zealand.”
Johnston says it’s a move that is more consistent with a New Zealand that wants to be compassionate and welcoming.
“Some families seeking refuge from these regions have been waiting for months if not years in dangerous situations and the policy essentially blocked them from ever finding safety here. That’s why we are welcoming today’s announcement and commending the Minister of Immigration and the Government on this move.”
But she says New Zealand still isn’t doing its part in the number of refugees it accepts.
“Even with this Government’s welcome increase to 1,500 refugee places per year under the Government Quota, New Zealand still only hosts approximately 0.3 refugees per 1000 inhabitants.This figure is so low that our less progressive neighbour,Australia, knownfor its anti-refugee sentiments, still beats us by accepting almost double what we do at 0.7 refugees per 1000 inhabitants. To put this into context, Lebanon, a developing state, hosts 164 per 1000 inhabitants.”
Johnston says the extension to the Welcoming Communities initiative, which is led by local councils, is another step in the right direction to empower our diverse local communities.
“We hope that the next obvious move in this space will be the Community Sponsorship of Refugees pilot programme being made permanent, as it is a win-win. It allows everyday people to take the lead in welcoming a refugee family into their town, increasing strong connections in local communities and building a more welcoming society and bridging divisions. It enables New Zealanders to partner on solutions to what is a global crisis, that’s pretty empowering. We also have more than 10,000 pledges from people who want this programme made permanent here, now’s the time to make the move.”