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NZ's refugee quota programme restarted after almost a year

New Zealand's Refugee Quota Programme is about to resume after being on hold for nearly a year, due to the country's Covid-19 response.

Refugee children (file picture) Source: istock.com

A group of 35 refugees are set to arrive this month - the first of a few similar sized cohorts to arrive, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) said in a statement today.

About 210 refugees are expected to arrive by 30 June this year, depending on international travel and transit arrangements. 

INZ general manager refugee and migrant services, Fiona Whiteridge, says the quota refugee programme has been on hold since March last year as New Zealand focused on a nationwide Covid-19 response. 

The only exception was a small number of priority emergency cases of refugees that have been resettled.

“INZ has been working with partners on plans to resume refugee resettlement when international travel and transit routes are available. Refugee arrivals will also comply with New Zealand’s Covid-19 health requirements,” Whiteridge said.

“With health protocols in place and safe travel routes, we are ready to welcome small groups of refugee families as New Zealand residents to this country, to begin their new lives.”

Families will all complete a cost-free 14-day stay in government managed isolation facilities upon arrival in the country. 

“INZ and the Managed Isolation and Quarantine agency (MIQ) are working closely together to coordinate the arrival of refugees to minimise any impact on available places at isolation facilities and ensure that the limited resumption of New Zealand’s refugee commitments does not displace other people,” Whiteridge said.

After completing managed isolation, the families will transfer to Te Āhuru Mōwai o Aotearoa (the Māngere Refugee Resettlement Centre) where they will complete their reception programme and finalise housing arrangements, before moving to planned settlement locations across New Zealand.