By NZ Catholic staff
New Zealand Catholic bishops have urged the government to increase it’s quota for refugee intake, saying that the escalating refugee crisis is a problem New Zealand can no longer ignore.
New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference president, Cardinal Jon Dew said, ” “The escalating numbers of refugees globally constitutes a crisis which no nation committed to human rights can ignore. We urge the Government to think deeply about how New Zealand might provide a response which reflects the generosity of New Zealanders.”
Cardinal Dew noted New Zealand’s Catholic communities were involved in supporting the Polish refugees after World War II.
“Many of the 250 Catholic parishes across New Zealand have a long history of supporting quota refugees resettling in New Zealand and helping with the family reunification process,” he said.
“The refugees on Nauru took similar journeys to the Syrians currently making their way across Europe. We need to be aware of the needs of all refugees, both those now on our television screens and those who are less visible in camps around the world,” Cardinal Dew added.
The bishops have urged the government to consider the following options:
• The Refugee Quota Programme includes provision for 150 of the total 750 to be “transferees” from Australian detention centres. Given that there are people within our own region, on the island of Nauru with proven refugee status, the 150 places could be treated as outside the quota, which would mean that 150 places could be given to people from other parts of the world.
• Increasing the number of people who enter New Zealand under the family reunification category would help both the refugees already settled here and their relatives, especially those who are in camps in places like Lebanon and Turkey.
• An extraordinary allocation of places outside the quota to deal with the extraordinary situation in the Middle East.