NZ humanitarian agencies say temporary increase in refugee quota a good start

New Zealand humanitarian aid workers have welcomed the government’s commitment to taking 750 Syrian refugees over three years and upping the amount of humanitarian aid – but they say this country should still double the permanent refugee quota.

The NGO Disaster Relief Forum (NDRF) represents NZ NGOs working in humanitarian aid, including the camps on the Syrian border. The Forum’s chair, Ian McInnes, says the government’s emergency measure for refugees is a good start but this country still needs to lift the permanent quota in light of the increasing refugee numbers which are now at unprecedented levels and will be for some time.

“It’s a shame that it has taken the well-publicised photo and story of a death of a child on a beach to wake us up to the desperation of refugees,” says Mr McInnes. “While the emergency package is good news for some of the many fleeing the Syria conflict, raising the permanent quota can help refugees in other hot spots around the globe.”

Mr McInnes says New Zealanders like to think that we are welcoming, but we, he says we could be far more hospitable to refugees. “Per head of population, we lag well behind many countries, including Australia whose ratio is three times as high.”

The NDRF chair points out that another way New Zealanders can help refugees is to support the work of Kiwi aid agencies that have programmes in refugee camps bordering Syria by going to their various websites or keeping an eye on which will list the latest agencies going to appeal.