Refugees and asylum seekers

Refugees need our help more than ever. We believe New Zealand can – and should – do more.

As the global migration crisis continues, New Zealand’s refugee intake has become a key topic of debate. The quota has not increased since it was established in 1987. We believe it’s time for a permanent increase.

We commend the Government for its decision to resettle an additional 600 Syrian refugees. However, even with this temporary increase, we lag significantly behind in terms of refugees hosted per capita.

As the primary provider of refugee resettlement services in New Zealand, we recommend the following:

  • The refugee quota should be permanently increased at the 2016 review.
  • The composition of the refugee quota should be determined according to humanitarian needs. 
  • It should reflect UNHCR priority populations.
  • Alternative methods of entry for people at risk should be considered. This could include community-based sponsorship and expansion of the refugee family support category.

Why increase the quota?

We must respond appropriately to global need

Today, more than 60 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide. The crisis in Syria, now in its fifth year, has led to an estimated 9 million people fleeing their homes. In the past year, conflict in Yemen has seen 1.1 million people displaced. Half a million people have left their homes in South Sudan. Large numbers of people have also fled Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and many other violent situations.

Resettlement places are desperately needed, now more than ever.

There is widespread support for increasing the quota

An increase to the refugee quota has widespread public support in New Zealand. Many community groups, churches, politicians, and academics are calling for an increase. During the recent media coverage of the crisis, we were inundated with offers of support from Kiwis.

An increase in the quota would allow for more effective integration and economies of scale

Currently, the small number of refugees resettling in New Zealand makes it difficult to achieve economies of scale. This effects specialised services, like mental health and English classes, outside of main centres. We believe an increase in the quota would create a more consistent level of demand for these services.

Many communities we support also face challenges maintaining cultural practices due to small numbers. A large refugee quota would help grow resilient, sustainable communities.

How should the quota be composed?

In the past, New Zealand has been recognised as a country that takes refugees based on need, rather than ease of integration. We believe the composition should reflect global humanitarian need, guided by UNHCR's priority populations.

Why alternative methods of entry?

We believe the quota is not the only method that could be used to ensure refugees are able to resettle in New Zealand.

We encourage the Government to consider additional admissions programmes, offering legal avenues for protection. These could include: community-based private sponsorship, humanitarian visas, academic scholarships and labour mobility schemes. These programmes would complement the existing UNHCR annual resettlement quota. Countries like Canada and Australia are already implementing some of these schemes.

Find out more about refugees around the world

Read about people embarking on dangerous journeys to gain protection and a better life. You can also sign the collective call to make the responsibility to #ProtectHumanity universal.