New Zealand archbishops call for refugee increase

Posted Feb 29, 2016

[Anglican Communion News Service] New Zealand’s two archbishops have called for a “more generous” approach to refugees and a “substantial increase” on the quota for the country’s refugee intake. They are also calling for “extra pathways” for refugees to enter New Zealand.

Archbishops Brown Turei and Philip Richardson made their case in a submission to New Zealand’s Minister of Immigration, Michael Woodhouse, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully. The pair are charged with recommending to the New Zealand Cabinet where the country’s refugee quota should be set for the next three years.

In a detailed written submission, the two Archbishops argue that New Zealand has been a “minimal contributor” where refugee and asylum-seeker intake is concerned, with the country’s refugee quota pegged at 750 for nearly 20 years. While they don’t suggest a specific revised number, they say they are “very sympathetic with the calls to double the quota.”

They also say the “alternative pathways” could include community-based private sponsorship schemes – where sponsors, typically churches, NGOs or small groups of concerned citizens – put their hands up and say, in effect: “We’ll be responsible for this group of refugees.” They point to the fact that more than 275,000 refugees have been resettled in Canada using this model.

They also suggest ramping up the existing family re-unification scheme – where a solo refugee can sponsor family members (who may be stuck in refugee camps, or in danger) to go to New Zealand. This scheme is current capped at 300 people a year.

“We know that Catholic and Anglican Christians throughout the country will step up to provide support and assistance to those our country offers refuge to,” the two archbishops say. “We have done so in the past, we continue to support newcomers and we commit ourselves and our resources into the future to this task.”

  • A fuller report and links to the archbishops’ full submission, can be found on Anglican Taonga.