Why are we not taking refugees from Ukraine?

Geoffrey Miller wrote:

On Tuesday, foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta announced New Zealand would provide an additional NZ$4 million in humanitarian aid to UN agencies, while immigration minister Kris Faafoi provided details of a new ‘2022 Special Ukraine Policy’ that will give work visas to Ukrainians who already have family in New Zealand.

The special two-year work visas for Ukrainians require sponsorship from New Zealand-based Ukrainian family members, of which Faafoi says there are around 1600.

EU countries are currently accepting an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees and are offering them residency for three years, with no visas required. Outside Europe, Canada announced at the start of March that it will also accept an unlimited number of Ukrainians for a period of at least two years, regardless of whether or not applicants have existing ties to the country.

It is true that New Zealand’s new visa programme – which the government believes will benefit around 4000 people – will undoubtedly help some Ukrainians who are fleeing the war. However, the requirement for existing family ties and sponsorship means that the programme is not open to Ukrainians generally and is far more restrictive than the offers from the EU and Canada.

As Miller points out, the policy only helps Ukrainians who already have family here. It doesn’t help the 99.9% of the 4.5 million refugees who don’t have family here.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s general refugee quota remains at the annual 1500 level that Labour set in 2020. This target – an increase from the previous 1000 – has not been met. Just 263 refugees arrived in the 2020-1 year and only 463 have been resettled in the current year – a shortfall which the government attributes to the “global impact of Covid-19.”

So in the last two years we have taken 2,500 fewer refugees than our quota. We should immediately announce we will take say 4,000 refugees in the next year.

Here’s what other countries have done:

  1. Poland 2.7 million
  2. Romanian 700,000
  3. Hungary 430,000
  4. Moldova 413,000
  5. Slovakia 320,000
  6. Germany 310,000
  7. Czechia 300,000
  8. Bulgaria 150,000
  9. US 100,000
  10. Italy 90,000
  11. Turkey 58,000
  12. France 45,000
  13. Lithuania 44,000
  14. Austria 42,000
  15. Israel 35,000
  16. Sweden 28,000

Surely 4,000 is not too much for New Zealand

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