600 extra refugees 'only a start' for New Zealand: Waikato academic

An extra 600 Syrian refugees will come to New Zealand in the next two-and-a-half years. Pictured is Syrian refugee ...
UNICEF

An extra 600 Syrian refugees will come to New Zealand in the next two-and-a-half years. Pictured is Syrian refugee Zakira Hani in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

New Zealand's extra intake of refugees will change 600 lives but is "a drop in the bucket", a Waikato academic says.

The Government announced New Zealand would take an extra 600 Syrian refugees in the next two-and-a-half years.

Another 150 would be resettled in New Zealand in the next year as part of an existing annual intake.

Kiwis should welcome the Government's move on refugees, University of Waikato law professor Al Gillespie says.
SUPPLIED/UNIVERSITY OF WAIKATO

Kiwis should welcome the Government's move on refugees, University of Waikato law professor Al Gillespie says.

University of Waikato law professor Al Gillespie said people should welcome the move.

"Every one of those numbers is a human being... going to be taken from a helpless situation to one in which they're going to have a much better life."

"But it's only a start and it's a drop in the bucket."

Though Gillespie would have liked to see 1000 refugees brought to New Zealand, 600 was more than he expected.

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But he thought Kiwis should aim to be on a per capita par with Australia by taking about 2000-3000 refugees a year.

"We're always trying to compete with Australia in sport and in commerce and in culture... but we should also try to compete with them in ethics."

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And there was a difference between migrants - looking for better opportunities - and refugees.

"A refugee is someone who has a well-founded fear, like evidence, that someone's trying to kill them or someone's going to really make their life living hell in terms of human rights and they can't return home," he said.

New Zealand has also promised an extra $4.5m in aid to those affected by violence in the Middle East.

It was urgently needed in areas such as Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, Gillespie said.

Turkey alone had about 1.8 million refugees, whereas about 300,000 were trying to get into Europe.

Continuing conflicts in the area meant the problem would only get worse so New Zealand needed to use its voice on the Security Council to work towards peace.

 - Stuff

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