Look in the Mirror, New Zealand

As the tragic news broke this week that up to 900 possible refugees may have drowned at sea trying to get to Italy, the call went out like bad satire, “Stop the boats! Punish the traffickers!”

What a sad folly. No one, including New Zealand, was willing to look in the mirror. Maybe that’s because the truth is, our own reflection isn’t terribly pretty. As families risk their lives at sea rather than die in the war that has engulfed them, New Zealand has quietly just shrugged. It’s not our crisis. It’s so far away.

We’re missing the boat entirely. We are every bit a part of the problem. New Zealand has very quietly closed the door to refugees from long-term neglect.

By Tracey Barnett.  [More from Public Address]

What If…

Professor Francois Crepeau, refugee expert, was standing on a beach where thousands of refugees die to cross to safety each year. He asked the official by his side,

“But why doesn’t IOM fund a ferry service? No one would die, the smuggling industry would be dead, you would get to register everyone. Maybe you could ask for 200 euros per person, they’re paying more to smugglers anyway, that would pay for the ferries and you would be able to inform them of the situation, you would be able to detect protection needs, people who are being trafficked, minors who shouldn’t be there, people who have health issues. You would be able to do so much work and this would pay for itself. What’s the problem?” And the answer was a little smile, and then: “I don’t think the member states of IOM would approve of such a plan.”  

By Gabrielle Jackson. [More from The Guardian]

Prime Minister John Key’s Refugee Comments in Turkey Tone Deaf

When John Key was asked if New Zealand would increase its refugee quota during Gallipoli commemorations in Turkey this week, a country staggering to support what is now the world’s biggest population of refugees, the Prime Minister said only, it was “not likely.”

Turkey has appealed worldwide for help to support over two million Syrians who have fled from war. New Zealand’s Prime Minister then added that its annual refugee quota of 750 was “about right.”

“Our Prime Minister’s response was embarrassingly tone deaf,” said Tracey Barnett, founder of #WagePeaceNZ, a refugee initiative that is currently calling on the New Zealand government to double its annual UNHCR quota.

“I fear that our Prime Minister didn’t consider how brazen his response would fly with the Turkish public, or government. It showed an impolitic disregard to Turkey’s efforts to deal with what is now being considered the biggest refugee crisis since WWII.”

“He was being hosted by a country that is staggering under this tremendous humanitarian load—and this was his response on the world stage?” Barnett said. “In this 100th anniversary of ANZAC, when it is more poignant than ever to question waging war, shouldn’t we look just as hard at how New Zealand can build the lives that war destroys—and wage peace instead?”

New Zealand’s refugee quota has not been raised in 28 years. It remains 87th per capita in the world in the total number of refugees and asylum seekers it hosts, 113th if measured by GDP. The quota will be reviewed by government early next year.

By Tracey Barnett[From Scoop]

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