How New Zealand's refugee quota stacks up internationally

At least 6.5 million Syrians are internally displaced – half of them children – and more than 3.2 million have fled, ...

At least 6.5 million Syrians are internally displaced – half of them children – and more than 3.2 million have fled, mostly to neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Although New Zealand has promised to take an extra 600 refugees over the next three years, the country still lags well behind other developed countries. 

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were 3.88 million Syrians classified as refugees or in a refugee-like situation in 2014 as they fled from civil war. That figure is likely to have increased this year, although there are currently no figures on global refugee populations for 2015. 

New Zealand's total refugee population in 2014 was 1349, equivalent to about 0.3 refugees per 1000 people. That is five times fewer refugees per head of population than Australia and about 47 times fewer than Sweden. This places New Zealand 87th in the world for refugees per head of population. 

On top of a refugee quota of 750 per year, New Zealand also accepts the claims of a handful of asylum seekers who make it to the country every year. 

However, the number of asylum claims accepted has been falling. In the late-1990s and early-2000s New Zealand accepted about 200-300 asylum applications per year, but in 2014/15 that figure was 100. 

Refugee advocate Murdoch Stephens said worldwide most refugees were asylum seekers, but countries like New Zealand without shared borders adopted quota systems as a way to "do our fair share".

"The New Zealand Government likes to say we're sixth or seventh best in the world, but that's only at the quota, that doesn't include asylum seekers where the majority of the refugees come from worldwide," he said. 

An asylum seeker is anyone who arrives at a country's border and claims to be a refugee, they are granted refugee status only if their claim is deemed to be legitimate. In New Zealand 25 per cent of claims in the past decade were successful. 

Quota refugees or resettlement refugees are people who are already registered as refugees by the UNHCR, but who cannot be offered a permanent solution in the country they are currently in and are offered resettlement in a third country, such as New Zealand.

New Zealand's annual refugee quota of 750 has not increased since it was first announced in 1987.

Ad Feedback

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback