Image: Syrian refugee children in a Lebanese classroom / UK Department for International Development / Wikimedia Commons
When a photograph of a tiny Syrian boy lying facedown on a Turkish beach hit the international media in September of 2015, the world gasped in horror. We all felt chilled at the waste of life. Outrage ensued, but what has happened since? We have to keep making a fuss.
New Zealand’s population has grown by 42% since 1987. Our refugee quota has not.
On top of that, the world is currently facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two, with over 60 million displaced people worldwide. The international refugee quota only aims to resettle one per cent of refugees, that’s 200,000 people. This aims to resettle the most vulnerable people, those least likely to survive long-term displacement. It will not help large numbers of people far away from their countries of origin.
When it comes to doing our bit, there are a number of myths we need to dispel about refugees. Doubling our refugee quota does not mean that we need to neglect people who already live in New Zealand, it means having enough humanity to understand that refugees are fleeing destruction and war and would love to return to where they were born. No one chooses lightly to become a refugee. No one puts their children on an ill-equipped, overcrowded boat unless the water is safer than the land.
Right now, the Government is reviewing New Zealand’s refugee quota. Now is the time to act. On Thursday 31 March, a petition of over 20,000 signatures was presented to Parliament calling on the Government to double the refugee quota. We are already making progress, Labour has said that it would double the quota, and there are a large number of New Zealanders who are demanding action from the Government. We need to maintain this momentum.
So if you have been meaning to take an interest in this issue, there is no time like the present to act. There are simple things you can do to help:
Spread the love: Like the Doing Our Bit – Double NZ’s Refugee Quota page on Facebook and share their posts. Amplifying an important cause is always good. Educate friends and family about the issue. Doubling the quota is not a drastic thing to do; it’s the right thing to do.
Sign up: Sign up to the Doing Our Bit newsletter to stay up to date with their most recent initiatives.
Write: Write to MPs demanding action, write posts on social media, write blog posts. Make your words transform the lives of others. A full list of New Zealand MPs can be found here. Click on your MP’s name to access their contact details.