A Turkish police officer carries the lifeless body of three-year-old refugee Aylan Kurdi. Photo / AP
The Human Rights Commission is urging New Zealanders to open our hearts and minds to the plight of millions of people fleeing for their lives as the global refugee crisis worsens.
“Kiwis need to open our hearts and minds. Millions of innocent, everyday people are now running for their lives,” said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.
“We shouldn’t be bystanders as the world faces our worst humanitarian crisis in recent history. We should have the courage to stand up for others – especially when no one else will: we need to show everyday empathy for everyday people.”
This year marks the Human Rights Commission’s 11th Diversity Forum and it is taking place at AUT next Wednesday 9th September when more than 300 people – many from migrant and refugee backgrounds - will share ideas and best practice on diversity, race relations and peace.
Keynote speaker is global peace activist and London bombing survivor, Dr Gill Hicks. Other speakers include Race Unity Speech winner and college student Kimberley D’Mello, AUT Professor of Diversity Dr Edwina Pio, Police Commissioner Mike Bush, co-director of the NZ Work Research Institute Gail Pacheco and AUT Deputy Vice Chancellor Rob Allen.
On Thursday 10th September, Dr Gill Hicks will give the keynote presentation “Building Bridges Not Walls” at an Auckland Conversations event hosted by Auckland Council with support from the Human Rights Commission. This event will be held at the Viaduct Events Centre at 5.00 pm, is free and open to the public click here for more details and to register to attend.
“Empathy in the face of Diversity is this year’s forum theme. Walking in someone else’s shoes, seeing things through their eyes makes us a stronger nation and makes us better people,” said Dame Susan.
“We live in one of the most ethnically diverse nations on earth and we also live in one of the most peaceful – we can lead the world in thinking about humanity and peace but we have to walk the talk,” said Dame Susan.
“New Zealand hasn’t increased our refugee quota in nearly 30 years, we can and should do more.”
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has called on New Zealand to take more Syrian refugees as the migrant crisis in Europe grows.
Find out more about NZ Diversity Forum 2015: Empathy in the Face of Diversity here.