Record number of asylum seekers in NZ last year

More asylum seekers claimed refuge once they were in New Zealand last year than in any year on record.

China had the highest number of approvals, followed by Russia and Turkey.

Asylum claims grew to 438, but a higher number were rejected compared to previous years.

China has been in the top three countries for asylum approvals for the past 10 years.

Asylum seekers either apply to the Refugee Status Branch once they arrive in New Zealand, or UNHCR-mandated refugees are brought in under the Government refugee quota.

Among refugees who entered through the quota, Syria, Myanmar, Colombia and Afghanistan accounted for three quarters of last year's 1000-strong intake.

The quota will rise to 1500 refugees in 2020.

The most common settlement areas last year were Wellington with 246 refugees and Otago with 182.

Southland had its first 43 Colombian arrivals through the new settlement scheme there.

More than half of Wellington's quota refugees came from Syria and Iran.

No refugees were placed in Canterbury.

Christchurch needed more infrastructure rebuilding before it could become a suitable refugee settlement location again, Immigration New Zealand said last year.

About 20 quota refugees from Afghanistan and Eritrea will be resettled in the city in March next year, with 40 more in the rest of 2019.

There are now seven places where refugees are settled long-term in New Zealand: Auckland, Hamilton, Manawatū, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill.

The government pulled back the number of quota refugees settling in Auckland in 2016, due to the lack of affordable housing.

Almost 300 were settled there in 2008 compared to 86 last year.

The Government is considering setting up additional settlement locations to accommodate the increase in refugees.

rnz.co.nz

New Zealand had a record number of asylum seekers last year. Source: rnz.co.nz

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