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Source: New Zealand Unions Activists and Left Political Parties

Headline: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL – Global Report: NZ and other rich nations not taking their fair share of refugees

New Zealand and other wealthy countries have shown a complete lack of leadership and responsibility, leaving the world’s low and middle income countries to shoulder the vast majority of the world’s refugees, said Amnesty International in a comprehensive assessment of the refugee crisis published today.

The report ‘Tackling the global refugee crisis: From shirking to sharing responsibility’, highlights that just 10 countries, which account for less than 2.5% of world GDP, currently host 56% of the world’s refugees. New Zealand, Ireland and Jordan all have populations of approximately 4.5 million people. The report shows that New Zealand, a much larger and richer country than Lebanon, hosts just 250 Syrian refugees.

Meanwhile Ireland, with a similar economy but smaller land mass than New Zealand, hosts 758 Syrian refugees.
In stark contrast, Lebanon, a far smaller and poorer country than New Zealand, hosts around 1.1 million Syrian refugees.

“The numbers speak for themselves. In too many cases, the few countries surrounding conflict zones are forced to do far too much, simply because of their location,” said Grant Bayldon, Amnesty International New Zealand’s Executive Director. “Fairness is a Kiwi value, we pride ourselves on it. But when it comes to refugees, we’re simply not doing our fair share.”

Of the world’s 21 million refugees, the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) has identified 1.2 million of them who are highly vulnerable and in urgent need of resettlement. Amnesty International has used three relevant, objective criteria – national wealth, population size and unemployment rate – to determine what a fair share of responsibility for resettling these most vulnerable refugees would be.

“For New Zealand’s to do our fair share, we should resettle approximately 3400 refugees as an immediate, one-off emergency intake, to be processed over the next two years. This should be in addition to our annual refugee quota,” said Bayldon. “There are 1.2 million people right now – human beings just like you and me – who are suffering and dying to try to find a place where they can raise their families, work and contribute to society. It is patently unfair to expect a small handful of poor countries to provide for them.”

The report underlines the urgent need for governments to increase significantly the number of refugees they take in by highlighting some of the issues that people face after being forced to flee their homes, including the danger of being sent back to conflict zones,living in appalling conditions such as Australia’s offshore detention centres, and taking incredibly dangerous journeys that too often end in tragedy.

“If we don’t act people will die, from drowning, from preventable diseases in wretched camps or detention centres, or from being forced back into the conflict zones they are fleeing, said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General. “If every one of the wealthiest countries in the world were to take in refugees in proportion to their size, wealth and unemployment rate, finding a home for more of the world’s refugees would be an eminently solvable challenge. All that is missing is cooperation and political will,” said Shetty.

The situation faced by the world’s 21 million refugees is precarious. While many in Greece, Iraq, on the island of Nauru, or at the border of Syria and Jordan are in dire need of a home, others in Kenya and Pakistan are facing growing harassment from governments. These 21 million refugees make up just 0.3% of the world’s population.

“Last month at the UN, world leaders failed to protect the world’s refugees. But we can welcome them, and we can do it fairly. The challenge is there for the New Zealand Government to live up to,” said Bayldon.