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Open letter: New Zealand’s contribution at Global Refugee Forum

We, as members of civil society, former refugee leaders, resettlement, humanitarian and faith-based organisations in New Zealand collectively note the historic step of the inaugural Global Refugee Forum taking place in Geneva on the 17 and 18 December 2019. The Global Refugee Forum represents a significant opportunity for states and non-state actors to work together to respond to the challenges and opportunities of international forced displacement, and to uphold the rights and dignity of refugees around the world.

WE NOTE:

The commitment from the international community, including New Zealand, through the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, to strengthen solidarity with refugees and the communities that host them.

The unique opportunities that exist for New Zealand to contribute further to the development of the Global Compact on Refugees strategy towards 2021 which seeks to:

  • Grow resettlement, including with more protection places;
  • Advance complementary pathways by improving access and developing opportunities;
  • Build strong foundations by promoting welcoming and inclusive societies.

WE COMMEND the recent actions of the New Zealand Government in contributing to these goals, including:

  • The doubling of the Resettlement Quota to 1500 per year from 2019;
  • The piloting of the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Category as a complementary pathway in 2018;
  • The removal of the “family link” criteria under the resettlement quota for refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

WE RECALL the urgent and increasing need to:

  • Actively build welcoming and inclusive communities in New Zealand and to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination;
  • Establish new and sustainable pathways of safety for people fleeing conflict and persecution around the world with resettlement needs doubling in recent years, and 1.44 million refugees requiring resettlement in 2020.

WE CALL on the New Zealand Government to take the opportunity of the first Global Refugee Forum to commit to timely pledges that will complement those of civil society, advance the objectives of the Global Compact and build more welcoming, inclusive communities in New Zealand:

  1. Strengthen former refugee leadership, including youth leadership and capacity, in policy-making;
  2. Establish the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship category as a permanent and additional pathway in New Zealand’s broader refugee and humanitarian programme;
  3. Increase the number of places available per year under the Refugee Family Support Category.

Signed,

Amnesty International New Zealand

Asylum Seeker Support Trust

Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition

Belong Aotearoa

Changemakers Resettlement Forum

Empower Youth Trust

Oxfam New Zealand

Refugees as Survivors New Zealand

Refugee Family Reunification Trust

South West Baptist Church

Tearfund New Zealand