The Global Refugee Crisis
The displacement of people is a serious global issue. According to UNHCR, over 65.6 million have been forcibly displaced around the world – more than at the end of WWII.
Of those 65.6 million displaced persons, approximately 1 million sought asylum in their quest for safety and security, with over 1.8 million awaiting a decision on their refugee status.
At the end of June 2017, 434 of these claims were made to New Zealand's Refugee Status Branch, with the leading country of origin being China, followed by Turkey, India, Hungary, Iraq, South Africa, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia and many others. 61% of these claims were made by males, with a clear majority (56%) of the claimants also being between the ages of 18-39.
In comparison to the huge influx of people seeking asylum seek in many European countries, New Zealand's these figures appear of course small. They are however increasing with a growth rate of 62.5% over 2007 and approvals to convention refugee status maintaining a constant level of around 30% over the last decade.
Who are asylum seekers? They are not migrants, who choose to resettle in another country. Like quota and convention refugees, asylum seekers are people who have been forced to leave their home country in seek of protection but there are some critical differences between the groups, particularly in the way they are treated.
- Are selected for resettlement in NZ via UNHCR who have mandated their refugee status.
- Tend to be part of a mass movement resulting from invasion or oppression, rather than individuals seeking asylum.
- Arrive with a New Zealand passport and full rights of all New Zealand Citizens.
- Are supported by a six week orientation and follow up settlement services provided by NZ Red Cross.
- New Zealand currently accepts 1000 Quota refugees a year.
- Are people who make a claim for refugee status on arriving at the border or after entering New Zealand.
- Receive no support from the New Zealand Government.
- Often require immediate support and assistance. Some arrive with just the clothes they are wearing.
- Must await a decision on their refugee status by the Refugee Status Branch. This can take a year or longer.
- Last year the number of claims in New Zealand increased significantly (from approximately 300 to 434) with the growth expected to continue.
- Are former asylum seekers who have been granted refugee status.
- Approximately one third of asylum seekers in NZ are successful in gaining convention refugee status.
- Even though they are granted refugee status they receive no dedicated settlement support services from the New Zealand Government