The long term lack of services for migrants and refugees in Auckland has resulted in a lost generation of refugees to crime, early marriage, unemployment, drugs and illiteracy - an Auckland Council report says.
The report, Funded Services to Migrants and Refugees in Auckland, was completed earlier this year and aimed to provide a snapshot of funded services that support the settlement of migrants and refugees in Auckland, and to identify service gaps and overlaps.
The report said more than a third of Auckland's population is foreign born, meaning the problems of the refugee and migrant population affect the whole community.
New Zealand accepts up to 750 refugees annually all of whom complete a six-week orientation programme at the Mangere Refugee Centre, before being placed in cities throughout New Zealand, including a large number in Auckland.
One of 90 people interviewed for the study said the "lost generation" and the issues it brought risked becoming an entrenched problem the longer services remained underfunded.
Auckland also risked losing skilled migrants because there was a lack of funding for programmes helping them into meaningful jobs, the report said.
There was a "widespread insistence" from every part of the migrant and refugee sector that more funding was necessary.
"They noted the impact of the recession, and organisations with established histories acknowledged their concern that the disappearance of funding may well cause them to close their doors," the report said.
A number of programmes were reported as being cut back or eliminated.
As a result migrants were less able to successfully settle in Auckland and the city was losing out on the opportunity to gain value from a "significant economic resource".
Other major issues were the barriers to acquiring English language skills which included a lack of transportation, a lack of affordable or free instruction and women being unable to attend because there was no one to care for their children.
Dependants of migrants and refugees - often women, elderly and youth - were more likely to find it difficult to settle and suffer from isolation.
Women and children who suffered family violence had fewer alternatives for escaping it, the report said.
The recommendations from the report included that the council was "ideally placed" to use its significant resources to drive the changes needed.
Areas needing urgent attention were listed as early childhood, family violence prevention, English language teaching, access to transport and better assistance for migrants and refugees with social housing.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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