Refugee advocates have come together to demand a voice in the review of New Zealand’s refugee resettlement strategy.
A strategy was last developed in 2012 and the Refugee Alliance wants it to be more focused on action.
The president of the Refugee Research Center and member of the alliance, Zhiyan Basharati, said solutions are needed, not a report gathering dust on a shelf.
“The resettlement strategy has not been reviewed for a long time,” he said.
“We need more than well-experienced words in a document, we need solutions, and who better to be a part of those solutions than people with lived experience, who are professionals, who have been through the New Zealand workforce, who have been through of the education system in New Zealand, and that they understand the settlement journey that we have been on, that they have dedicated their entire careers to supporting our communities.
“We really need to have a conversation, we need to be invited to be part of that conversation and we hope that the Refugee Alliance can be part of that voice. To drive that change we need for the review.”
Members of the Alliance include the National Council for Young Refugees, the Fund to Support Asylum Seekers and Refugees as Survivors, each with at least one representative who is a former refugee.
Basharati came to New Zealand at age 11 after spending his childhood in a Kurdish refugee camp.
People with lived experience and organizations representing refugees should help redesign the strategy, but have not been consulted, he said.
“So these people should be invited to be part of those solutions and to be part of the review and we really need to start building a bit of a base because there is an increasing number of refugees arriving in the future and we must do that. best job.
“We are not invited, that is why the Refugee Alliance has been formed so that we are united in our voice and we are calling to be heard.”
The alliance wants the review to look at outcomes, such as housing and employment, with periodic targets and reports.
Basharati spent five years involved in a government refugee forum after she and other NGOs lobbied for a voice, but said nothing came of it.
“This forum was just talking and no action,” he said. “We would comment on education, health, employment and how we could do a better job and find solutions, but that was it. There was no action based on the solutions we came up with. All of that continued a document that was there on the shelf, gathering dust.
“So this time, we need a change. We can’t really bring refugees into the country and continue down the path that we’re going, it’s not right.”
The Refugee Alliance wants all refugees to be included in the strategy: those who arrive through the UNHCR Quota, through family reunification, the Convention (former asylum seekers) and Community Sponsorship.
The review should also explore how Maori view their roles in leadership, hosting and integrating former refugees and identifying new ways of building relationships and partnerships, he said.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) said the strategy was a government-wide approach to deliver better results in refugee resettlement so that refugees more quickly achieve self-reliance, social integration and independence.
INZ Director General of Refugee and Migrant Services Fiona Whiteridge said the strategy was “approved by the New Zealand government in 2012”.
“The goal of the strategy is to help refugees fully participate in their new communities, including helping them find work and improve their health and education outcomes.
An update of the refugee resettlement strategy has been initiated that will explore the inclusion of Convention refugees in the strategy. Updating the Refugee Resettlement Strategy will allow former refugee communities to understand the priorities of supporting settlements and support the design of services delivered in the community. “