Christchurch reinstated as refugee settlement location

New Zealand’s third-largest city, Christchurch, has been reinstated as a refugee settlement location.

The announcement marks an important milestone for the city’s post-earthquake recovery, while also representing an important step for New Zealand’s ambitions to increase the refugee quota.

“It’s great news for refugees, New Zealand and Christchurch itself to be re-established as a refugee settlement location,” said Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, “It shows the city is once again able to welcome some of the world’s vulnerable people and let them be part of a fantastic place to live.

“Except for a limited number of family-linked cases, the settlement of Quota refugees in Christchurch was suspended following the September 2010 earthquake, due to the impact on services such as health and housing,” The Minister continued.

“We’ve been eager to bring Christchurch back as a settlement location, and after a comprehensive review the Government is satisfied the rebuild has reached a point where the infrastructure can now enable refugees to be settled in the City once again. “

The plan is for around 60 Quota refugees to be settled in Christchurch in the 2018/19 financial year. The first group of around 20 Afghan and Eritrean quota refugees is expected to be settled in Christchurch in March 2019.

Prior to the first group being settled, service providers, City Council and local communities will have the opportunity to participate in training to further develop their capacity to support refugee settlement.

Quota refugees are given permanent residence on arrival in New Zealand and spend their first six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre. While there, they complete a reception programme to support living and working in New Zealand and English language. They also complete medical and mental health assessments.

The NZ Government made significant investments in refugee support in the 2018 Budget, providing NZ$14 million in new funding to build and operate two new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, and nearly NZ$4 million in additional funding for the Refugee and Protection Unit.

Article published 24th August 2018