Today’s announcement about the removal of the racist policy that prevented African and Middle Eastern refugees from settling in New Zealand, unless family were already living here, was well overdue, says Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.
Mr Foon was commenting on today’s announcement by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway of the Government’s three-year refugee quota policy. The new policy includes removing the Quota refugees ‘Family link policy’, which prevented refugees from Africa and the Middle East settling in New Zealand, unless they already had family living here.
“I am excited and relieved about the changes announced today. Soon after commencing my role, I raised my concerns with the Minister that this policy was unfair, discriminatory and racist,” Mr Foon says.
“It was totally unacceptable that this policy singled out African and Middle Eastern refugees, treating them unfairly in comparison to other refugees.
“No one chooses to be a refugee. The average stay in a refugee camp can be many years and the conditions are appalling.
“The opportunity to come here is life changing, and resettlement means many refugees will be given a chance to make a new life and prosperous future after events such as internal or external war have devastated their original homes,” Mr Foon says.
“I wish to acknowledge the many cities that have refugee settlement facilities and programmes that give refugees the chance to resettle and set them up to contribute to New Zealand society in the long run.
I am glad the Minister has stated that we are a welcoming and inclusive nation. The accompanying announcements by the Government which recognises the need for New Zealand to play our part and to demonstrate our commitment to refugees are a positive step in the right direction. I am glad to hear that the Welcoming Communities Initiative has received a further allocation of $6.6 million over the next four years. This will go some way in supporting refugees and communities to successfully build the inclusive and accepting society we all desire.
“Lastly I wish to acknowledge community advocates and leaders such as Guled Mire, a former refugee himself for his strong advocacy in this area, to ensure fairer policies for refugees coming to Aotearoa,” Mr Foon says.