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Newsletters > Diversity Action Programme > Te Punanga: Refugee Focus > 2009 > May

Te Punanga: Refugee Focus

ISSN 1178-0940 May, 2009

News & Issues

World Refugee Day

The global theme for this year’s World Refugee Day (June 20) is “Real People, Real Needs” as set by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Despite the efforts of many, the needs of refugees worldwide are far from being met. Behind these unmet needs are not just numbers but real people with real stories.

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Refugee Services note that the average stay in a refugee camp has risen to 17 years, where needs such as safety, housing, education, water, food, medical care are often unmet. Less than 1% of the over 11 million refugees worldwide are resettled in another country. New Zealand is one of the top ten countries offering resettlement as a durable solution. Each year we welcome 750 (+ or - 10%) quota refugees as well as up to 300 family reunification places through the Refugee Family Support Category.

Resettlement is used only when refugees are unable to return to their own country and face such difficult or dangerous circumstances that they cannot safely remain in the country to which they have fled.

On World Refugee Day, Refugee Services will be involved in a number of events throughout the country; planning is underway and more information will be available over the next few weeks. If you are planning an event or activity for World Refugee Day/week, please let them know by emailing Jude Walcott jude.walcott@refugeeservices.org.nz (Phone (04) 815 9103). Also, please email NZ Diversity and let us know so that we can publicise it on our events and activities page.

The Department of Labour will be hosting the annual National Refugee Resettlement Forum (NRRF) on May 27 & 28 at the Westpac Trust Stadium in Wellington.

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The aims of the NRRF are to:

  • Focus on key issues highlighted at the regional forums to be of national significance or requiring a national solution,
  • Enable participants to conduct a dialogue that is mutually beneficial, and
  • Provide an opportunity to share ideas or initiatives of interest to participants.

The forum provides a platform on which a "whole of government" approach can look at issues that affect refugee resettlement and work towards a community development approach to provide local solutions for local issues.

Invited guests will include a representative from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, key government departments and refugee representatives. The Minister of Immigration, Dr Jonathan Coleman will present the opening address.

Refugee Quota and Status Branch

The March 2009 intake of UNHCR mandated quota refugees have completed the six week orientation programme at Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre. Refugees have moved to their new homes where they will continue to be supported by various agencies in the settlement process. The nationalities, numbers and settlement areas are:

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Auckland Christchurch Nelson Palmerston North Wellington TOTAL
Myanmarese Chin

2

25

21

21

69

Myanmarese Kachin

4

6

12

22

MyanmareseKaren

11

11

Chinese

1

2

3

IraqiArabic

1

1

IraqiKurdish

1

1

IraqiMandean

5

5

IraqiPalestinian

7

7

TOTAL

32

25

27

21

14

119

Refugee Status Branch

New claims

In March, 12 refugee claims were lodged with the RSB and April saw 21 claims. To date this financial year, 206 claims have been received. The claims lodged in March and April were; Iran (5), Malaysia (3), Ethiopia (3), Bangladesh (3), Iraq (3), China (2), Czech Republic (2), Somalia (2), Sri Lanka (2) and 1 each from Algeria, Brazil, DR Congo, Fiji, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Somalia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. To date this financial year 40 nationalities have sought asylum.

Decisions

The RSB decided 24 refugee claims in March and 30 in April. Of those, 17 were approved. The nationalities approved were; China (7 Falun Gong), Sri Lanka (3 Tamil), Iran (2 domestic violence & 1 Internet dissident), Iraq (1 Christian & 1 worked for US based NGO), Afghanistan (employment led to threats from Taliban) and Syria (Christian).

Of those declined, 89% had adverse credibility elements to their claim.

After a year-long review of the former name, members at ESOL Home Tutors’ 2009 AGM voted unanimously to adopt the name ‘English Language Partners New Zealand’. The new name will be officially launched on May 15 at the association’s annual conference in Auckland.

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Volunteer ESOL home tutors, fundamental to the work of the organisation, are now only one portion of the work and identity of English Language Partners. The organisation undertakes a diverse range of activities with migrants, refugees and the volunteers and paid teachers supporting them.

The new name is reflective of the organisation's UNESCO prize-winning volunteer training programme 'Partners in Learning'. In addition, it also refers to partnerships with ethnic communities, government, tangata whenua and with employers.

Click here to visit the website of English Language Partners New Zealand.

A reminder that the Global Education Centre has issued ‘Refugee Voices’, a useful teaching resource about the experiences of people who have come to NZ as refugees. It comes with a CD of their recordings.

that the Global Education Centre has issued 'Refugee Voices', a useful teaching resource about the experiences of people who have come to NZ as refugees. It comes with a CD of their recordings.

Former refugee groups in Palmerston North have met together to start initial planning for a local Refugee Focus Committee. Attending were representatives from the Congolese, Bhutanese, Burmese, Rwandan, Cambodian and Somalia communities.

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The meeting was facilitated by Department of Internal Affairs and the Settling in Project. A second meeting was held last week; the group were addressed by Te Papa who are planning a future exhibition featuring former refugee young people. The group are looking forward to a visit from Kafeba Mudele from the National Refugee Network and look forward to working with him in the future.

The youth group of Umma Trust are organising a fundraising event for World Refugee Day Event. It will consist of cultural items, a fashion show and speech from refugee leaders and young people. The event will be held on June 27 at Fickling Centre from 6.00pm.

roup of Umma Trust are organising a fundraising event for World Refugee Day Event. It will consist of cultural items, a fashion show and speech from refugee leaders and young people. The event will be held on June 27 at Fickling Centre from 6.00pm.

Young refugee authors are to tell stories from their own lives at the launch of their new book on May 20 at Massey University. Earthless Trees, is a book of short stories about the struggles faced by refugees, both living in their own country, and moving to a new one. Three of the four authors are planning to talk about their personal life experiences at the event launching the book.

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All the authors in the book have lived through similar situations to the stories they have written. One of the writers, Haja Ali, is still at high school and is just 17 years old. Refugees as Survivors (RAS), the key organisation behind the book's publication, see a number of refugees coming into Wellington each year. An event giving refugees the opportunity to speak about their lives would be highly beneficial to both refugees and the community, says RAS general manager, Jeff Thomas. "Providing refugees with a chance to integrate with the wider Wellington community would raise awareness of the hardships suffered by refugees, and allow for more acceptance."

RAS deals mainly in providing mental health services for refugees and their families who have experienced torture and trauma. They have a number of qualified staff trained to deal with these situations.

For more information on the event or information on purchasing the book please contact: jeff@wrnz.org.nz or Ph: 04 8050361

Did You Know?

The Moradi Decision

An oral judgement was issued by Judge Sharp in Auckland’s District Court on April 2nd in the case of Reza Moradi (appellant) and Land Transport New Zealand respondent). Mr Moradi, recently granted refugee status, had applied to Land Transport New Zealand for a passenger endorsement on his driver’s licence.

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