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Immigration New Zealand steps with refugees Friday, 19 June 2020

World Refugee Day on 20 June 2020 coincides with 118 former refugees leaving the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, after spending the last few months in lockdown together.

“Families in this intake have experienced a unique kind of kiwi hospitality during this time and have been through lockdown as members of our New Zealand team of five million,” says Fiona Whiteridge, General Manager Refugee and Migrant Service, Immigration New Zealand (INZ).  

The theme for World Refugee Day is ‘step with refugees’ and INZ is proud to continue to step with refugees as they move to their new communities around New Zealand.

Refugee families from the current intake will be welcomed in Dunedin, Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Invercargill.

The towns of Blenheim and Timaru will welcome refugees for the first time, with Colombian families moving to Blenheim, and Syrian families going to Timaru.

Rachel O’Connor, General Manager Migration, New Zealand Red Cross is excited to be welcoming families in Blenheim. “Red Cross volunteers and staff members have been preparing for this for months, so it’s going to be a great day full of smiles when the plane lands.”

In Timaru, there has been a lot of positive engagement from the community.  “There is already a wonderful team of volunteers in place who have prepared the homes, and will also assist the families to settle," says Fiona Jackson, Presbyterian Support South Canterbury.

Background notes

On 22 March 2020, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization of Migration (IOM) suspended refugee resettlement departures to resettlement countries, such as New Zealand. As a result, refugee arrivals as part of New Zealand’s Refugee Quota Programme remain on hold.

Immigration New Zealand is working with agencies in New Zealand and overseas, on requirements to resume refugee resettlement once border restrictions are lifted.  This includes ensuring travel routes are available to facilitate refugee movements and appropriate health measures and controls are in place. This is also dependent on the UNHCR and IOM removing the suspension on refugee resettlement departures.

The Refugee Quota Increase Programme (RQIP)