Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Andrew Little: New Zealand should double refugee quota

Labour leader Andrew Little visiting the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan. Photo / Supplied
Labour leader Andrew Little visiting the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan. Photo / Supplied

Labour leader Andrew Little is calling for New Zealand to double its refugee quota after visiting a packed refugee camp in Jordan.

Little was at the Zaatari Refugee Camp yesterday where 80,000 refugees from Syria are living - and he said the scene there made an impact on him.

New Zealand presently takes in 750 refugees per year. Little would like to see this upped to 1500.

"I saw for myself the conditions the people are living in and it is pretty primitive," Little told the Herald from Dubai today, as he prepared to fly home.

lThe Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan has the reputation as the largest refugee camp in the World. Photo / Supplied
lThe Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan has the reputation as the largest refugee camp in the World. Photo / Supplied

"I would like to see New Zealand do more to help ease the refugee crisis and we should be doubling the numbers we take in each year."

It is still a drop in the ocean but if we are going to be global citizens we need to do more."

Little said he witnessed refugees living in small huts at Zaatari where crude stalls and shops have been set up to try to bring a sense of normality to the camp."

In terms of facilities there is nothing much there and there is no playground or proper educational facilities for the kids, who still have an amazing spirit," he said."

The adults just want to give their children a better life."

Earlier this week Little made a top secret visit to Iraq with Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Chief of Defence Force Tim Keating to meet New Zealand troops based at Camp Taji.

Andrew Little visits NZ troops in Iraq and refugees in Jordan. Photo / Supplied
Andrew Little visits NZ troops in Iraq and refugees in Jordan. Photo / Supplied

The troops are helping train Iraqi soldiers to fight against Islamic State (Isis).

"Our men and women in uniform are doing an amazing job and they have a big task ahead," Little said.

"We are doing our bit but there are also real challenges still ahead for the Iraqi forces."

- NZ Herald

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