Refugees expected next April

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by Greta Yeoman

The first group of quota refugees to resettle in Timaru are not expected to arrive until April 2020, Immigration New Zealand has said.

While Timaru has already welcomed a family of former refugees from Syria through the pilot scheme of the refugee sponsorship project, the 2020 groups will be part of the first ongoing resettlement programme in the town.

The first group of former refugees under the standard refugee quota were initially expected to arrive in March next year, but this had been pushed out to April, Immigration New Zealand refugee division national manager Andrew Lockhart said.

“Whenever a new settlement location is selected, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) officials meet directly with the relevant council to brief them on the settlement support available and then work with them to engage communities and providers.”

Between 10 and 15 refugees (about three to five families) will be settled in Timaru every six to eight weeks once the programme is under way.

The nationalities of the families are yet unknown, he said.

Immigration New Zealand officials would be in Timaru later this month to meet Timaru District Council staff and the Community Development team, Mr Lockhart said.

They will look at next steps to support local agencies and providers and engage with the community.

“Whenever a new settlement location is selected, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) officials meet directly with the relevant council to brief them on the settlement support available and then work with them to engage communities and providers.”

Immigration NZ has contracted the New Zealand Red Cross to provide settlement support services to quota refugees during their first 12 months in the already established settlement locations but this support would be going to tender for the five new locations, Mr Lockhart said.

This support includes co-ordinating a community orientation programme and linking quota refugees to the services they need, such as GP enrolment, employment and English language classes.

Mr Lockhart previously said having more locations would provide support when the country’s refugee quota was increased to 1500 places in July next year.

Timaru, Whanganui and Blenheim will begin resettling families from April 2020; Masterton and Levin from June 2020; and Ashburton from August 2020.

This will bring the total resettlement areas to 14.

The additional locations will come into place just before New Zealand’s refugee quota increases to 1500 people per year from July 2020.

At present, the country’s quota is 1000 places each year.