The Human Rights Commission has repeated calls to increase New Zealand’s refugee quota.
Speaking at the National Refugee Resettlement Forum today Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy said:
“In years to come when our children ask us what we did as the world faced its worst humanitarian crisis in history: What will we say to them? Will we make excuses? Will we wish we did something?”
“How can we honestly defend a 30-year track record of doing nothing but the bare minimum?”
Dame Susan says increasing New Zealand’s annual refugee quota as well as providing a flexible humanitarian response from time to time is the right thing to do.
“New Zealanders need to start talking about our refugee quota, the time to do something is yesterday: We must get some guts and we must increase our refugee quota.”
Dame Susan said New Zealand “can no longer play our part on the world stage with mana or with dignity if we do not do the right thing at home: human rights begin at home.”
“We have millions of displaced people in the world – most of them children. This is New Zealand’s opportunity to lead by example as a Security Council member. We must pull our weight as a responsible, humane global citizen.”
Dame Susan said focusing only on the costs of resettling refugees was “cynical and unfair”.
“Some of the most courageous New Zealanders I’ve ever met have come from refugee backgrounds. Thousands of hardworking amazing people who are grateful to have been given a home and who give back to New Zealand every day of their lives,” said Dame Susan.
“To label them solely as a cost on society is both insulting and incorrect.”
Change depends primarily on the will of everyday people: which is why everyday Kiwis need to take a stand and call for a rise in New Zealand’s refugee quota. We need to start having Courageous Conversations.
“Most of us will never know what it’s like to flee our home, never knowing if we will see our loved ones again. Most of us will never know what it’s like to survive a war in our own homeland, or put our lives on hold as we wait for another country to give us a new home,” said Dame Susan.
“My plea is for New Zealanders to start punching above our weight not just in sport: New Zealanders need to start punching above our weight when it comes to compassion, kindness and most of all, humanity.”