Ibrahim and Yousef both came to New Zealand as a refugees, but now Wellington is home and their dreams are very much like yours and mine: To take care of their families and make a useful contribution to their community.
As a teenager in Eritrea, Ibrahim was arrested for protesting forced labour and soon had to flee to Sudan, where the government accused him of being a spy. Unable to stay in Sudan and unable to return home to Eritrea, Ibrahim was designated as an emergency refugee by the UN. That’s when he first heard of New Zealand, as the country willing to given him refuge. Today, Wellington is his home and the man who was once arrested for protesting forced labour is campaigning for workers rights in New Zealand while studying public policy.
Today is World Refugee Day, and we are facing the greatest refugee crisis in modern history. Almost 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes to escape terrorism, war, political violence and oppression. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis.
But today is a day to celebrate the lives of people like Ibrahim, and the refugee system that gave him a second chance at life and New Zealand a new, passionate and productive citizen. Today is also a day to ask whether New Zealand could do more.
Will you use the form on the right to email the Minister to tell him that you support New Zealand increasing our refugee quota?
Here are some numbers: 42,500 people are forced to leave their homes every day. New Zealand’s current refugee quota is only 750 per year. That figure hasn’t changed in 28 years. Globally, we are ranked 90th in terms of resettlement per capita. Australia takes 4 times more refugees per capita than we do.
This may be about to change. Today Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said the Government may lift the refugee quota next year, following calls from Amnesty International Doing Our Bit, Wage Peace NZ and ActionStation members to double the refugee quota.
A decision will be made early next year, but given the Minister’s announcement - and the fact that today is World Refugee Day - now is the perfect time for a massive show of popular support for an increase in our quota.
Will you email the Minister to tell him that you support New Zealand doubling our refugee quota to 1500, in line with population growth over the past 28 years?
There is no denying there are people already living in New Zealand whose basic needs are not being met. Which is why it’s important to remember that once refugees settle into our country, the vast majority of them contribute in positive and productive ways to their new home. People like Yousef who came to New Zealand as a refugee after spending seven and a half years in an Iranian jail for standing up for the right of his ethnic minority community to speak and teach their own language. Yousef now lives in Wellington where he is raising his family, studying and working at a refugee resettlement agency.
It’s also important to remember that when refugees seek a new home, they’re not simply trying to find a better life, they are trying to live.
On World Refugee Day, will you join us in calling on Minister Woodhouse to ensure New Zealand does our bit for people forced to flee their homes around the world every day?
 Government to consider more refugees: Herald
 Refugees grateful for safer lives and careers in New Zealand: Herald
 Editorial: Pitiful refugee quota will no longer cut it: Herald
 Plea to increase refugee quota: Herald