The Catholic Diocese of Auckland is the lead organisation in a partnership formed to resettle Iraqi refugees under Immigration New Zealand’s Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship programme.
The diocese is in a partnership with the Chaldean Catholic Community of St Addai, Papatoetoe, and the Refugee Sponsorship Group.
Under the CORS programme, a total of 150 sponsored refugees will be resettled in New Zealand in the period up to June 2024.
The general manager of the diocese, James van Schie, said “the diocese is pleased to help facilitate this opportunity for the generous Catholic community to directly assist refugee families to find peace and a generous welcome with us here in New Zealand”.
Under the initial CORS pilot scheme, an Iraqi family was happily resettled in Hamilton in 2018, with the assistance of a similar partnership involving Hamilton diocese, with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand as the lead organisation.
This time the partnership plans to resettle two Iraqi refugee families in Auckland.
Participation in the CORS programme was instigated by two members of the Refugee Sponsorship Group, Suzie and Pat McCarthy, following meetings with Iraqi refugees in Jordan during pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
The St Addai parish community was founded in 2003. Many of its families came to New Zealand as refugees or asylum seekers after being displaced by armed conflicts in Iraq. The community has previously assisted more than 50 refugee families to resettle in New Zealand.
The St Addai parish priest, Father Douglas al-Bazi, previously lived in Iraq, where he established a refugee camp that sheltered more than 500 war refugees who had escaped from Islamic State militias.