1st increase in refugee quota for 30 years, so of course attacked by the left!

June 14th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The number of refugees New Zealand will accept is to increase from 750 to 1000 each year, a decision widely panned by human rights advocates. 

Prime Minister John Key confirmed Cabinet had discussed the issue and reached a decision on Monday.

The figure is short of the 1500 refugees campaigners and Immigration NZ have said New Zealand can handle, but Key said services had to be bolstered to cope with an increase first. 

The annual costs to take on additional refugees would rise by $25 million to $100 million per year.

The Government was also working on a new pilot that would see community groups sponsor certain refugees, that filled criteria that was yet to be decided on. 

New Zealand’s refugee intake quota has remained at 750 per year, for the past 30 years.

New Zealand Amnesty International chief executive Grant Bayldon said the announcement was “shameful”. 

“This is a shameful and inhumane response and a stain on our country’s reputation as a good global citizen.

I recall the good old days when Amnesty was not seen as partisan. A non=partisan Amnesty would say we are pleased the Government is the first one in 30 years to increase the quota but we are disappointed they have not increased it further. But instead they call the first increase in 30 years “shameful”.

Key said Monday’s announcement was “an appropriate response”.

“Before we take any more, we need to be sure that people have the appropriate support and services they need to resettle in New Zealand, like housing, education and translation services. 

“Therefore, we’ve opted to increase the quota to 1000 from 2018, after the Syrian emergency response refugees have been resettled,” he said.

“When the new quota of 1000 comes into effect, the annual cost will rise by $25 million a year, to $100 million a year.

“It’s important to note, the annual refugee quota is just one part of New Zealand’s total refugee and humanitarian programme. 

“There are also 300 places available each year for family reunification, and an additional 125 to 175 asylum seekers have their claims approved each year.”

So once implemented we probably will be taking in around 1,500 refugees a year.

ACT leader David Seymour welcomed the increase but said the Government could do more to monitor the “tolerance” of refugees.

“This level of increase is very close to where we would be if we had followed ACT’s policy of increasing the quota in line with our growing population.

“However, this is also a good opportunity to up our commitment to values of peace and tolerance. Why wouldn’t we state these values clearly to the people seeking join our country?”

He proposed making all immigrants sign a “New Zealand Values Statement”, similar to those signed in Australia and Belgium.

“Specifically, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and respect for women and those of different sexualities should be understood and respected by all new New Zealanders.”

I agree with David Seymour. I think this should be a priority.

ISIL has lost 45% of Iraq territory

May 19th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

USA Today reports:

The Islamic State has lost 45% of the territory it once held in Iraq and 20% of areas it controlled in Syria, according to new estimates by a U.S.-led coalition combating the extremist group.

That’s good news. A long way to go, but losing territory is important. ISIL is not Al Qaeda. Their appeal and legitimacy comes from holding territory.  There will always be Islamic terrorism (sadly) but ISIL as an entity can be defeated by loss of territory.

New Zealand has played a role in this, with our training of Iraqi troops. The opposition would have had us do nothing but take in more refugees. By supporting and training the Iraqi troops, we are helping with ending the suffering of those who were living in territory controlled by ISIL.

Far better to help stop creating refugees, and making their homes safe again, than doing nothing to stop ISIL.

Keys signals lift in refugee quota

May 4th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has signalled New Zealand’s annual refugee quota will be lifted from the current levels of 750.

Speaking at a NZ Institute of International Affairs conference, Mr Key said the three yearly review of the quota was currently underway. That has been at 750 since 1987.

“You ask a fair question, is it enough? We have had that number for a very long period of time. It is quite obvious the world need for host countries of refugees has been accelerated quite rapidly in recent times.”

He said he had not seen any of the work of the review. “But it’s far from impossible New Zealand will lift its annual quota.”

Mr Key said on the basis New Zealand could offer the same or a better level of re-settlement service to those refugees it would be “realistic” to argue for an increase in the quota.

It comes as Labour leader Andrew Little reignited his calls for the quota to be doubled to 1500 a year following his visit to a refugee camp in Jordan.

Labour were in Government for nine years and didn’t lift the annual quota by a single person. Then in the comfort of opposition when they don’t need to actually decide anything, they declare it should be doubled.

However, Mr Key issued two sounds of warning, saying any change would have to leave some leeway for New Zealand to offer one-off emergency intakes, such as last September’s decision to accept 750 Syrian refugees over three years. Of those, 600 were part of an emergency intake outside the quota. The extra intake was expected to cost an extra $49 million over three years in resettlement costs, on top of the $58 million spent on refugee resettlement annually.

Mr Key said it was also important New Zealand had the capacity to properly re-settle those refugees if the quota was lifted.

What I would do is move the quota to what it would be if it had increased by population growth since 1987. That would take it to around 1,100.Further I would peg it to our overall population so every 1% increase in our population sees the quota automatically increase by 1%.

As important as quantity, is quality. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees in the UNHCR system. We should choose refugees who have the best chances of integrating into New Zealand – as most refugees already do.

Little in Iraq

April 30th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has ended a secret trip to Iraq where he says he wanted to see first hand the work of Kiwi troops.

The invitation to visit troops at Iraq’s Camp Taji was issued by Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee, after Labour opposed the deployment.

Little’s trip was not announced till after he and Brownlee returned to Dubai on Thursday.

Little says he accepted the invitation to go because it was important to see for himself the work Kiwi troops were doing and the conditions they were working under.

The Opposition leader also met Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled Al-Obedih and senior military officials from the Coalition forces in Iraq.

Good of the Government to invite Little to go, and good that he attended. In the unlikely possibility he becomes PM, he will have to decide on future deployments.

“Labour opposed the deployment because the Iraqi Army’s track record was poor, even after years of training by American and other armies.

“The situation in Iraq, as well as Syria, remains hugely challenging and it is not yet certain how the Iraqi security forces will address issues of motivation and discipline, and continuing ethno-sectarian divisions across the whole army.

“It’s obvious the needs Iraq has won’t be met in the two year period the Government set for the mission. The Government must now be open with the public about the demands being made of it and its plans.”

Labour opposed the deployment, but their reason for doing so has been proven invalid. The Iraqi Army is now winning battles and the training has been cited as a major factor.

Brownlee, who was on his second visit to Taji, said the Kiwi taskforce had trained more than 4000 Iraqi troops since being deployed alongside Australian troops in 2015.

National MP Mark Mitchell also accompanied the group.

“I thought it was important to offer the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to see Task Group Taji in action for himself, and for Mr Mitchell, as the relevant select committee chair, to have first-hand experience of the mission.”

Task group Taji provides a range of training to the Iraqi Security Forces.

“This training includes basic weapons handling, counter IED, combat first aid, obstacle breaching techniques, planning for combat operations, the laws of armed conflict and human rights.

“It was pleasing to hear from senior Iraqi commanders that Task Group Taji-trained troops have on a number of occasions captured and held towns and territory from D’aesh using their newly attained skills.”These commanders speak highly of the training and intend to cycle units back through Taji for further training when possible.”

Over the last year Islamic State has lost significant territory.

Little will now visit the Zaatari Refugee Camp, where 80,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria are now based.

“New Zealand has had a history of supporting humanitarian causes. We believe the Government must double the refugee quota and that we should be stepping up support for the people who are suffering in these camps,” Andrew Little said.

Labour often says we should treat causes, not symptoms. The misery of the refugees is being caused by Islamic State. If Islamic State is not defeated, the number of refugees will continue to increase massively. So why does Labour say NZ should help refugees, yet opposes doing anything to reduce the number of refugees?

Let private groups sponsor refugees

April 9th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Initiative says:

Amid calls from politicians and civil society to lift the refugee quota, The New Zealand Initiative is urging government to take note of Canada’s system that allows private groups to sponsor refugees.

In New Zealand, the government explicitly limits the number of refugees that are allowed into the country each year, reflecting in part the direct costs of the process that are borne by the state.

The limit, which has not changed in 29 years, prevents community groups and charities from taking in additional refugees above the quota. While community groups do excellent work in helping new refugees to settle in New Zealand, those who are willing and able to do more are not allowed to do so.

In Canada, private groups can raise funds to sponsor the admission of additional refugees above the official quota. Over the past five months, almost 9,000 additional refugees have been able to resettle in Canada as a result of this policy.

“Much of the debate around refugees has focused on quotas, but even if it were doubled, efforts by charities and community groups to help more of these desperate people are likely to be constrained,” said the Initiative’s Executive Director Dr Oliver Hartwich.

“Canada’s example shows that there is a smarter way of doing things. That you can have a quota system, and also bring in more refugees above this limit by tapping into private philanthropy. This is a policy that we think is worth investigating.”

I agree. Have a quota for taxpayer funded places, but allow churches and charities to sponsor places on top of that. A win-win.

Europe adopts the Australian system

March 23rd, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

Migrants were given a one-day deadline to reach Europe as leaders announced anyone landing in Greece after midnight on Saturday would be swiftly deported.

A deadly scramble for the last boats over the Aegean to the Greek islands began after a €6 billion (£2.3 billion) aid-for-deportations deal with Turkey was agreed in Brussels.

Turkish police on Friday intercepted 3,000 migrants attempting to cross on land and sea in a major operation involving coast guard and helicopters, as Ankara at last showed a willingness to halt the human tide.

From Sunday morning, any asylum seeker who lands on the holiday islands including Kos, Lesbos and Chios with no longer be able to catch ferries to Athens, but will be swiftly interviewed by asylum officials or judges at new detention camps.

From April 4, once Greek law has begun, deportations to Turkey will begin with leaders hoping within weeks that the process will take no more than days.

Effectively Europe has gone for the Australian system – removing the incentive for people to cross by sea and down themselves.

One of the most basic responsibilities of a government is security, and that includes secure borders. People want to be able to determine their country’s destiny through the ballot box, not through having millions of people come across their borders.

Why Germany is changing its mind

February 20th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

CBS reports:

Most of the suspects identified in connection with a series of robberies and sexual assaults in Cologne during New Year’s celebrations are refugees, prosecutors said Monday.

The crimes, described as unprecedented by authorities, sparked uproar in Germany and a heated debate about the country’s ability to integrate almost 1.1 million people who sought asylum there last year.

The incident has led to both a political and a personal backlash against the mostly Middle Eastern and North African asylum seekers that flooded the country last year.

Cologne prosecutor Ulrich Bremer said 73 suspects have been identified so far – most of them from North Africa. A total of 1,075 criminal complaints have been filed, including 467 alleging crimes of a sexual nature ranging from insults to rape.

“The overwhelming majority of persons fall into the general category of refugees,” Bremer told The Associated Press, saying recent reports describing only three of the suspects as refugees were “total nonsense.”

Initially, authorities in Cologne were accused of downplaying the fact that the attackers included many asylum-seekers because of the political sensitivity of the issue.

The suspects included 30 Moroccan nationals, 27 Algerians, four Iraqis, three Germans, three Syrians, three Tunisians, and one each from Libya, Iran and Montenegro, Bremer said.

“They have various legal statuses, including illegal entry, asylum-seekers and asylum applicants,” he said of the foreign suspects. “That covers the overwhelming majority of suspects.”

They’re a very small proportions of overall refugees, but their actions are understandably turning public opinion against taking refugees.

I’m in favour of taking refugees – but through a system where they get vetted before they arrive in your country, not afterwards.

EU says most asylum seekers are not genuine refugees

January 27th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Six in 10 migrants arriving in Europe are economic migrants with no right to asylum, one of the EU’s most senior officials has disclosed.

Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, said that the majority of those coming to the EU are not fleeing war or persecution.

Many are Tunisians or Moroccans who were joining the migrant trail through Turkey, he said, and they must be deported if the public is to consent to aiding asylum seekers.

How do you deport 600,000 people a year? Each one can appeal and appeal and the time and costs will be beyond belief.

This is why you need a secure border, and genuine refugees should be encouraged to go through the UNHCR system, rather than just turn up at the border.

More people die trying to get to Europe

January 24th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At least 43 people, including 17 children, drowned when their boats capsized off two Greek islands near the Turkish coast on Friday (Saturday NZ Time), coastguards said, marking one of the deadliest days for migrants risking the perilous route to Europe from Turkey.

According to survivors’ testimonies, dozens were on board a wooden sailboat which went down off Kalolimnos, a small island in the Aegean Sea close to Turkey’s coast, one coastguard official said.

Twenty six people were rescued and at least 35 migrants drowned in one of the worst incidents in months, the official said. It was not clear why the vessel capsized, but witnesses said strong winds were blowing at the time.

Very sad.

But a reminder of why it is better to incentivise refugees and asylum seekers to go through the UNHCR system and refugee camps, rather than kill themselves taking dangerous journeys by sea in the hope of reaching Europe.

Refugees and Borders

November 24th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The growing focus in Europe and the US is now on securing borders and refugees, especially as it appears at least one of the attackers in Paris may have come into Europe as a refugee from Syria.

My view is that you need to have secure borders, but that doesn’t mean not helping refugees.

We should take in refugees fleeing conflict from Syria, and other countries.

But we should only take those who have gone through the UNHCR process, and have had their backgrounds checked.  This process needs to be done quicker, and more need to be approved. That way there is an incentive to go through the UNHCR process, rather than just trek into Europe.

It is worth noting that the right of asylum only applies to the first country a refugee arrives at. Once a refugee has got into Turkey, they have a right of asylum in Turkey. But if they then trek through half a dozen other countries to get to Germany or France, they are no longer an asylum seeker. They are what people call an economic refugee. Now it is understandable that people would rather be in Germany or France than in a refugee camp in Turkey. So the solution is to take more people from the refugee camps, and secure the borders to deter such huge hordes of people, which does make it easy for terrorists to exploit.

A poll has just come out in the US, which sadly shows that there is a backlash against taking in any refugees. The poll is here.

  • 44% support sending US troops to fight Islamic State and 44% disagree
  • 28% says Islam is an inherently violent religion and 64% say inherently peaceful, but some twist its teachings (I would choose neither option – it is inbetween)
  • Only 28% support the plan to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees, 53% say accept no refugees from Syria and 11% Christian refugees only
  • 53% say US should have a military coalition with Russia to fight Islamic terrorism, 35% disagree

Will Europe close its borders

November 6th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

The U.N. refugee agency said Monday that a record 218,394 people crossed the Mediterranean to reach European shores in October — about as many as the total from all of last year.

That’s a huge number. Basically refugees respond to incentives as much as anyone. Given a choice between waiting for the UN to get them a place out of a refugee camp in Turkey, and trekking to Europe, they will of course choose Europe.

Slovenia has said it is considering a fence of its own. Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec described that action as “a last resort” but added that he is “very much concerned” that other countries will erect barriers, leaving his tiny Alpine nation shouldering an unsustainable burden. Even now, he said, Slovenia is struggling to cope.

“We cannot go on like this for a long time,” Erjavec said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We have received more than 100,000 migrants in just two weeks. This number represents 5% of our population. Our human, financial and material resources are limited.”

No country could cope with a 5% population increase in two weeks.

The climate change “refugee” Labour wants to stay here

September 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

One News reported:

Ioane Teitiota was sent back to the tiny Pacific island this afternoon after a last minute appeal to let him and his family stay in New Zealand on humanitarian grounds was denied.

However revelations have been made against Mr Teitiota by a former employer saying he sexually assaulted a female co-worker and violently assaulted other colleagues before being fired from a west Auckland market garden.

Can the EU force countries to take refugees?

September 24th, 2015 at 11:21 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The European Union approved a plan on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) to share out 120,000 refugees across its 28 states, overriding vehement opposition from four ex-communist eastern nations.

Diplomats said interior ministers meeting in Brussels had voted to launch the scheme, backed by Germany and other big powers, in order to tackle the continent’s worst refugee crisis since World War Two.

The Czech minister tweeted that he had voted against, along with colleagues from Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, with Finland abstaining.

So being a member of the EU now means other countries decide your refugee quota for you.  What will they do if countries refuse?

At present most in the UK want to remain in the EU, but how the EU deals with this issue may change that.

Prague had earlier warned that any attempt to impose such a scheme would be unworkable and could end in “big ridicule” for governments and EU authorities.

“We will soon realise that the emperor has no clothes. Common sense lost today,” Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec tweeted after the vote.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said pushing through the quota system had “nonsensically” caused a deep rift over a highly sensitive issue and that, “as long as I am prime minister”, Slovakia would not implement a quota.

And worse:

“If we fail to find the right solution in the long term, the migrant crisis could truly threaten the existence of the European Union. But I am not a pessimist, I believe that we will find joint measures,” Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar told Reuters in an interview.

The reason for the opposition:

Eastern states with no tradition of integrating large numbers of Muslims are anxious about the impact on their societies and keen to avoid any signal that might encourage even more desperate people to set sail across the Mediterranean for Europe.

This is the same issue Australia has had. If you don’t take a hard line, then you encourage hundreds of thousands more to set sail.

Countries should take refugees – but from the refugee camps through the UNHCR system. Encouraging people to set sail to Europe will only end badly.

An overstayer not a refugee

September 23rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A last-ditch appeal against the deportation of a man who claimed to be the world’s first climate change refugee has failed.

Associate Immigration Minister Craig Foss has received a briefing on the case of Ioane Teitiota and his family, and has tonight declined to intervene.

That means he will be deported shortly to Kiribati, with his wife and young New Zealand-born children likely to join him.

Mr Teitiota had claimed to be the world’s first climate change refugee, but that was dismissed by the courts, and Labour instead asked Mr Foss to allow him to stay on humanitarian grounds.

Earlier today, Prime Minister John Key said there was no question that Mr Teitiota was an over-stayer, and not a refugee.

This is correct. Mr Teitiota is trying it on. Overstayers do this a lot. They have little to lose. I recall Danny Butler who claimed he would be killed if returned to Ireland.

On the issue of climate change, Mr Key dismissed the notion that New Zealand should consider looking at accepting people on the basis that their homeland was threatened by rising sea levels.

“I am certainly not ruling out that a future Prime Minister and a future Government wouldn’t take that compassionate view, and I suspect actually that they would. But it would be on genuine grounds that they actually can’t live in their country.”

Sea levels are rising. But at present by 3 mm a year. In the long term this will post massive problems for Kiribati, if it continues. But we’re talking maybe 50 to 100 years down the track, not during his lifetime.

Reverend Naisali said that sending the family to Kiribati was akin to putting someone on dialysis on a plane, despite knowing there was no medical help where they were going.

“There is no employment opportunities in Kiribati, there is population density in Kiribati, there are no education opportunities for the children.”

That may be so, but he is from Kiribati. If he did not overstay, he could apply for residency if he has skills NZ needs. But simply coming from a poorer country is not grounds for residency in NZ.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the case was the “canary in the mine”, and there would soon be “a flood of people from the Pacific Islands” because of climate change.

Will James define soon? Climate change is seeing temperatures increase and sea levels rise. And we do need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate this. But I dispute that there will soon be a flood of people. The IPCC most recent report is that if emissions continue to increase then by 2100, sea levels would have increased by 62 cms.  That will definitely impact many people, but 2100 is not “soon”.

That is not an argument to do nothing. Quite the opposite. But it is an argument that we do not need to claim there will be a flood of climate change refugees anytime soon.


The sad truth behind the tragic photo

September 12th, 2015 at 8:04 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A woman who was on the boat carrying drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi has accused his father of being a people smuggler.

Channel Ten reported Zainab Abbas, who lost two children in the tragedy, claims Abdullah Kurdi was at the helm of the boat when it sunk off the Turkish coast.

“He was a smuggler, yes. He was the one that was driving the boat,” the woman told Ten over Skype from Iraq through a translator. 

So he was doing it not to reach safety, but to make money. How awful.

It was known, but not widely reported, that they were not in fact fleeing from Syria, but had lived in Turkey for three years.

Abbas claimed she met Kurdi and another man in a cafe and handed over $US10,000 to get them to Europe.  

So for the entire boat, how much?

Abbas said there were too many people in the boat and not enough life jackets when it capsized.

Her husband had asked Kurdi to slow down, but he didn’t listen, she said.

Crying, Abbas said she and her husband and daughter held on to a life jacket but her other two children, a boy and girl, were lost.

This is one of the challenges for Governments. You don’t actually want refugees to be travelling by sea to other countries, as it is highly dangerous for them and they get exploited by people smugglers. That is why many Governments say they will only take refugees who come through the UNHCR. But of course if you do manage to reach another country by sea, you may get asylum.

Earlier this week Kurdi blamed Canadian authorities for the deaths of his wife and sons, telling German news site Die Welt that he did not understand why Canada rejected his application for asylum.

But Canada’s immigration department said it had not received a refugee application from Kurdi.

So it seems he may be lying about a lot.

Winston says men should be forced to fight in Syria

September 9th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

From the crackpot file:

New Zealand should take only women and children refugees from Syria and tell the men to return home and fight, NZ First leader Winston Peters says.

His brain seems even more disengaged than normal.

And who should they fight for – ISIL or Assad?

And as he seems to be stuck in a 1970s time warp, if he thinks only men can be soldiers. He should visit Israel at some stage.

NZ to take in some Syrian refugees

September 7th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government will today announce an emergency package to allow hundreds of Syrian refugees to come to New Zealand.

The one-off intake will go “over and above” New Zealand’s annual refugee quota, but will not number into the thousands, Prime Minister John Key said this morning.

The move follows domestic and international calls for governments worldwide to do more to help the 13.5 million victims of the biggest refugee crisis since World War II – pressure which effectively forced Mr Key’s hand a week after he ruled out further measures until after a review of refugee quotas next year.

It comes after more than 7000 asylum seekers surged across Hungary’s western border into Austria and Germany over the weekend.

They were met with cheers, hugs, hospitality and the hope of a new life.

This morning Mr Key confirmed he would announce a package to take “over and above our normal quota” of refugees in response to the humanitarian crisis in Europe.

I think this is the right thing to do. It is being part of a global citizen.

However it is worth reflecting on the two types of refugees, and New Zealand.

Countries generally take refugees in one of two ways. The first is they turn up in your country and seek asylum. We get relatively few of these, because we are an island country. I’ll come back to this.

Over the last decade we have averaged 300 claims a year for asylum. Around 74% are declined and 26% approved. So that is around 80 a year.

Accepting these refugees is mandatory under international law, specifically the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol. If you are one of 145 countries that has signed the convention, you are obliged to take in refugees who have genuine asylum claims of persecution

On top of that mandatory right of asylum, countries can voluntarily take refugees – even if they are not in their country. 20 countries do this formally through the UNHCR with a quota. We have an annual quota of 750, plus refugees can later bring in family members which means on average 1,000 people a year enter through this route.

On top of that you take take refugees outside the quota as Helen Clark did with the Tampa and John Key is doing with Syria.

Now some may argue that because we have so few refugees turn up on our doorstep, as we are a remote island/s, we should radically increase our quota. Now I think our quota should increase in line with population growth, but caution against a massive increase.

It is true that one of the benefits of being a remote island/s is we don’t get 250,000 refugees turning up at our border. But there are many disadvantages to being a remote island – it makes it much harder for us to trade with the rest of the world, travel, and get the exposure to other countries and cultures that you do by being part of a continent. We should be careful about throwing away the benefits, when we will remain with the disadvantages.


What are the Gulf states doing to help the refugees?

September 5th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

The world has been transfixed in recent weeks by the unfolding refugee crisis in Europe, an influx of migrants unprecedented since World War II. Their plight was chillingly highlighted on Wednesday in the image of a drowned Syrian toddler, his lifeless body lying alone on a Turkish beach.

A fair amount of attention has fallen on the failure of many Western governments to adequately address the burden on Syria’s neighboring countries, which are struggling to host the brunt of the roughly 4 million Syrians forced out of the country by its civil war.

Including whether New Zealand can do more to help – and I think we can.

Less ire, though, has been directed at another set of stakeholders who almost certainly should be doing more: Saudi Arabia and the wealthy Arab states along the Persian Gulf.

As Amnesty International recently pointed out, the “six Gulf countries — Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain — have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees.”

These are very wealthy countries.

That’s a shocking figure, given these countries’ relative proximity to Syria, as well as the incredible resources at their disposal. As Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, a Dubai-based political commentator, observes, these countries include some of the Arab world’s largest military budgets, its highest standards of living, as well as a lengthy history — especially in the case of the United Arab Emirates — of welcoming immigrants from other Arab nations and turning them into citizens.

So why won’t they help?

Moroney is right – fake refugees should be kicked out

August 12th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand will let 27 people who came here under false refugee claims stay.

Radio New Zealand obtained documents from Immigration New Zealand’s refugee and protection unit and appeal tribunal.

The Immigration New Zealand’s refugee and protection unit were not happy with the decision by Department of Internal Affairs to allow the 27 refugees to stay in New Zealand despite it being found out, once the refugees were in New Zealand, that their claims had been false.

I’m not happy either.

The department had not explained its reason for allowing the refugees to stay, Radio NZ reported.

They should front up and explain.

The minutes show Immigration NZ believed the decision undermined the refugee system from being a future target for fraud.

You encourage more fraud if you reward the fraudsters with what they wanted to achieve with their fraud.

Labour immigration spokesperson Sue Moroney said Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne needed to explain the situation, which could have left 27 genuine refugee claims out in the cold.

Yep, there are a limited number of spaces.

Peters flip-flops on refugees

May 20th, 2015 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the number of refugees who are allowed to settle here should be greatly increased.

The Northland MP, who is well known for his opposition to current immigration levels, believes New Zealand’s refugee quote should be increased by at least a third.

There is currently an annual limit of around 750 places for refugees on United Nations waiting lists.

“There’s no reason, in my view, that we couldn’t go to 1000 easily, and do it in a responsible way,” Mr Peters said, in answer to a question from a first year politics class at Victoria University of Wellington yesterday.

Winston of course was campaigning against in 2004. The RMS responded to his claims:

Winston Peters’ comments in the House yesterday about New Zealand’s refugee quota system were inaccurate and misleading, says RMS Resettlement director Peter Cotton.

“He chose to hide behind Parliamentary Privilege to attack a former Somali refugee seeking to bring members of her family to New Zealand. At the same time he blatantly misrepresented the Government’s response to refugees, suggesting that each refugee accepted in New Zealand’s small annual quota (750) was likely to be followed by an additional 14 family members.

So in 2004 he was attacking us for having 750 by claiming each one would bring in 14 more. In 2015 he pretends he is in favour of increasing it.

In 2001 he attacked the Government for allowing in the Tampa refugees.

“The fact remains that New Zealand was a soft touch when she took office and it is even more of a soft touch now. Another load of refugees does not make any sense when we have already been very charitable. The truth is that there were many UN signatory countries closer to the Tampa than New Zealand, why then is New Zealand being expected to once again grossly exceed its limit?

“The duplicity of government is astounding. The more facts that come out of this debacle the more concerning it gets. We now hear that many may be carrying third-world diseases, as if we didn’t know that, and have not been treated in Nauru first. The Government has a duty to protect the health and security of its inhabitants, a test which it is failing miserably.

Not big on consistency is he.

Devoy on Refugees

March 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A reader e-mails re this story:

A few points on this:
Firstly, the Race Relations Commissioner should not involve herself in matters of public policy outside the scope of her responsibilities. She is in a public service role and should keep her opinion on these matters to herself, and not engage in activist issues.

I agree. 

In respect of her view that the quota should increase to at least 1,000 per annum:
We have a generally successful refugee resettlement programme.  Largely because we take a number of refugees that we can handle and work closely with to settle successfully.  We want refugees to make a solid contribution to their new country and do well.  In turn, that underpins public support for the annual quota which is crucial.  Excessive numbers with unsuccessful settlement outcomes is not helpful.
In effect, we already accept 1,050 per annum as we take a further 300 in the Refugee Family Support category.  This allows refugees to ‘sponsor’ their family members and bypass the usual migration process with its requirements for high education and skill levels etc.
I prefer quality of settlement outcomes for those we take, rather than a quantity we cannot successfully settle.  Many refugees have serious educational, health, mental health, language and other challenges that are costly and intensive to address.  We should seek to do that well rather than spread the limited funds too thinly over too many.
Could we take more refugees within the annual quota from Syria?  Perhaps.  Worth exploring and it may well be on the radar of officials already.
New Zealand is one of just 19 or so countries that takes an annual quota of refugees.  That is the number that needs to increase substantially to address the global refugee issue.  Like climate change, New Zealand can only ever have a minimal effect without the contribution of other nations.

I am sympathetic to calls for a modest increase in our quota. Maybe have it as a proportion of our population, so it rises a bit over time. But this is not a good time to increase it. Net migration is at a record high and infrastructure is going to start to feel some real strains. If anything, we need to temporarily reduce the level of net migration for a year or two – not because we don’t still want migration, just that it needs to be at a level our infrastructure can handle.

From beheadings to Eton

February 26th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Mail reports:

When three-year-old Rohid Zamani and his family fled Afghanistan to escape the terrors of the Taliban regime, they could only hope to reach a better place.

But never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined such a spectacular outcome for their little boy.

While the family have built a new life in Britain, Rohid, now 16, has defied overwhelming odds to win a full scholarship to Eton.

His extraordinary story began in the city of Jalalabad, where the Zamanis lived in fear of the extremist Islamic rulers and civil unrest raging around them.

Among the horrors they witnessed was a man who was decapitated because he put gel in his hair to style it.

‘He was dragged out in the street and they chopped his head off,’ said Rohid.

Afghanistan is far from perfect today, but those who claim it is no better than under Taliban rule have never lived there!

Rohid’s father, who worked as a civil engineer, decided to risk everything by fleeing the country with his wife and two children.

Their journey took them across 3,500 miles, including crossing rivers in Russia in a leaking rubber dinghy.

Rohid said: ‘My mum was scared we were going to sink. She put her hand on the hole.

‘I was really scared. After that we had to wait for a van and the van broke down so we had to go through a forest.

‘There were wolves and dogs, everybody was just so scared.’

The family also became separated at one point.

They spoke no English when they arrived in Hull but they soon adapted and were allowed to settle in the UK. And Rohid showed his dedication to learning early on.

An incredible journey.

As well as being bright and hard-working, he excelled at rugby league and athletics. When the school suggested Rohid apply for an Eton scholarship he jumped at the chance and was among hundreds who took part in a tough four-day interview process.

‘Luckily I was picked so I must have done OK,’ he said. 

He starts at sixth form in September, studying A-levels in maths, biology, chemistry and physics.
Rohid’s father now works as a van driver – but the family won’t have to pay a penny of the £30,000 annual fees and have been given a £1,500 bursary to help cover school uniform and other expenses.

The teenager now knows there is no limit to what he can achieve. He hopes to become a surgeon. Commenting on the Eton life that awaits him, he said: ‘It’s a huge step, a bit like going to university two years early.

When people talk about equality of opportunity – this is what it means. A very heart-warming story.

Thoughts on the asylum seekers deal with Australia

February 12th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A few thoughts:

  • Isn’t it amusing that when Helen Clark agreed to take some boat people who were seeking asylum in Australia she was lauded by the entire left for her humanitarian gesture yet when John Key agrees to do much the same, but annually, he is condemned by the exact same people. And yes, the Tampa refugees were treated as part of the quota also.
  • How can one criticize this deal for encouraging queue-jumping yet also advocate that Australia should resume onshore processing which has been shown to massively encourage boat voyages and queue jumping.
  • Personally I think there is a legitimate criticism that this deal may encourage queue-jumping, but probably not significantly enough to actually lead to a group of people deciding to make a boat voyage they otherwise would not have.
  • There is a surprising lack of sophistication in understanding our relationship with Australia is not purely a transactional one. The decision by the NZ Government helps Julia Gillard (and any successor)  in what is arguably her most difficult domestic issue. That will not be forgotten.
  • The notion that Australia bullied NZ into this is ridiculous. In fact as reported it was a NZ initiative
  • What is surprising is the lack of focus on a centre-right NZ PM helping out a centre-left Australian PM. It’s a nice example of not letting domestic politics interfere with having a strong relationship.
  • I’m surprised also no one has cottoned on to Gillard making an unprecedented early announcement of the election date, almost certainly being because Key the same thing in 2011.
  • Personally I think taking in refugees is one of the better things a country can do, so long as they are able to integrate well into their new country and that the level is sustainable. Note that Australia takes in 20,000 to our 750. I’d like that to increase at some stage in the future when our economy is stronger. But I think it is best increased through the UNHCR process, not through increasing the number in the bilateral agreement with Australia
  • You have to love Labour’s strong clear policy on this issue. They are outraged of course, but when asked what they would do, the answer is “Shearer said if elected, Labour would discuss the policy with Australia.” – you can’t make this stuff up.

A humane decision

October 26th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Up to 26 Afghan interpreters will be given asylum in New Zealand when Kiwi troops withdraw from Bamiyan next April.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said Cabinet agreed on Monday to offer the interpreters a resettlement package in New Zealand.

The details will be released next week when Dr Coleman returns from a visit to the Middle East.

The interpreters, working with the Provincial Reconstruction Team, are being notified of their packages.

Including the interpreters’ families, 75 Afghans would come to New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key said earlier this month he was sympathetic to Afghan interpreters working with Kiwi troops who say their lives will be in danger.

The interpreters have said their work over a long period has made their identities known to insurgents, putting them at risk after New Zealand leaves the region.

I think this is the right decision. This incidentally doesn’t mean an increase in refugees – rather that they get allocated 75 out of our annual (I think) 750 places.

UPDATE: They do not qualify as refugees, so in fact are additional to the normal quota.

The dangers of boat asylum seekers

June 22nd, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Scores are feared dead as rescuers race to save 200 asylum seekers who were on a boat that capsized en route to Australia.

Indonesian authorities were leading the rescue effort for the boat that went down in their jurisdiction about 200km north of Christmas Island.

The stricken vessel was spotted by an Australian Customs and Border Protection surveillance plane about 5pm (NZ time).

“It is believed up to 200 people could be on board, although this detail has not yet been confirmed,” Customs said in a statement.

West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said about 40 people were spotted on the upturned hull, others were in the water and up to 75 others may be dead.

“We have grave fears for the remainder,” he told reporters.

What an awful way to die, drowning in the Indian Ocean scores of miles from land.

In December 2010, more than 50 asylum seekers, including women and children, died when a boat known as SIEV 221 crashed into rocks off Christmas Island.

The disaster was the largest loss of life in Australian waters in peacetime in 115 years.

And as many as 200 people drowned last December when an overloaded boat sank off the coast of East Java on its way to Australia.

Only 49 people survived the tragedy, which occurred in rough monsoonal seas on December 17.

So far this year, 57 boats carrying a total of 4006 passengers and 82 crew have arrived in Australia.

For the month of June, there have been 18 boats carrying a total of 1108 people.

The latest arrived arrived on Thursday and had 117 people on board.

I wonder how many were genuine refugees who gained asylum.