Afghan refugees to settle in Manawatu

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 11:57 18/04/2013
Afghan interpreter Asadullah Rezai
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NZ BOUND: Interpreter Asadullah Rezai, 25, is looking forward to bringing his wife and three-year-old son to start a new life in New Zealand.

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Afghan refugees, including interpreters who worked with the New Zealand Defence Force in Bamiyan, will be resettling in Manawatu.

As part of the government's refugee quota programme, about 50 people from Afghanistan will be welcomed to Manawatu on June 14.

The interpreters, and their families, were offered resettlement in recognition of their service to New Zealand as employees of the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

It will be the largest single group of refugees to arrive in Manawatu as part of the quota programme.

Another group of Afghan interpreters and their families will be resettled in the Waikato. 

The New Zealand Red Cross is searching for about 45 volunteers to support the refugees during their first six months in a new environment.

Red Cross Refugee Services Manawatu Manager Kevin Petersen thinks the newcomers will add to the cultural richness of the region.

"The Afghan community in the Manawatu is very small, and the culture will be new to many of us," Mr Petersen said. 

"We're not just helping families build new lives in a peaceful community. 

"With this group, we're also helping a new community put down roots and contribute to the Manawatu."

Those wanting to volunteer would complete a comprehensive training programme over the next few months and then support the new families when they arrived, Mr Petersen said.

"They'll set up the homes, introduce the families to local support services and help with day-to-day tasks like enrolling the children in schools, setting up services with banks and government agencies and providing the essential emotional support as they cope with adapting to life in New Zealand.

"To see refugee family members out and about at the supermarket or driving or working and knowing that you've helped them settle into their New Zealand life, that's what it's all about."

Training for volunteers begins on May 8.

For more information about volunteer or to donate linen and blankets for the Afghan refugees contact Tecia Edwards at Tecia.Edwards@redcross.org.nz or 027 228 0036.

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- Manawatu Standard

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