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Commission applauds end of ‘racist’ refugee policy

Graphic: A woman hugs children at the Mangere Refugee Centre

The policy had prevented refugees from Africa and the Middle East settling in New Zealand, unless they already had family living in the country.

Removing the racist policy that prevented African and Middle Eastern refugees from settling in New Zealand, unless family were already living here, was well overdue, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon said in a statement.

Mr Foon was commenting on the 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 in the country.

"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 said.

"It was totally unacceptable that this policy singled out African and Middle Eastern refugees, treating them unfairly in comparison to other refugees," he said.

The Race Relations Commissioner said no one chooses to be a refugee and that many people spend years in a refugee camp, where conditions can be 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 homes," Mr Foon said.

"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."

Date: 4 October 2019

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission


Image credits

  1. A woman hugs children at the Mangere Refugee Centre - Still image from NZHRC video, "From Refugee to Kiwi"