Worries raised over resettling refugees

By Tara O'Halloran

1 comment
Sophia Xiao-Colley.
Sophia Xiao-Colley.

Northlanders support settling refugees in the region but the resources to support them are lacking, workers from the sector say.

Organisations and the community in Northland have backed the refugees on their journey in a number of ways, however the infrastructure and resources here aren't sufficient to cater for the high needs of refugees.

Whangarei Migrant Centre co-ordinator Sophia Xiao-Colley said a number of community groups, such as Pompallier Catholic College and St Andrew's Church, have shown support for the settlement of refugees in Whangarei.

She hoped Northland could become a settlement location because refugees could be an asset to the community.

Despite this, Ms Xiao-Colley said the area couldn't meet some of the newcomers' needs, such as transitioning and language services, bridging courses, jobs and housing.

"I would like them to come, but they need to be in a place where they are fully supported," she said.

Red Cross spokeswoman Alice Montague said the Northland community had shown support in donations and schools had shown interest through learning about ways they could help refugees.

The Government last week announced that in 2018 the refugee quota would be increased by another 250 people from 750. Another settlement location is set to be announced next year but Immigration New Zealand's Andrew Lockhart said no alternative locations were up for consideration yet.

Currently, when refugees arrive in the country they complete a six-week reception programme at Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre and are then moved to one of the six settlement locations around the country.

Red Cross does not currently have training in place in Northland for the support of refugees once they have arrived in New Zealand.

In making the decision on where would be best for the next settlement location, employment, housing and the availability of government services will be looked at.

The six current settlement locations are Dunedin, Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington and Nelson.

- Northern Advocate

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