Almost every day New Zealanders watch the reports on the global refugee crisis. Anyone paying any attention to current events will have seen the Mediterranean turning into a watery grave as Europe argues over how to deal with this influx of asylum seekers. Workers should understand that the country’s intake is very small. The New Zealand government's response has been just 100 places within the quota since the war began four long years ago.
Many opposing help for refugees present the "put New Zealanders first" line. It goes like this: we have poverty here, once that is totally fixed we can accept more poor people from abroad. This argument mistakes refugees as a burden and is a reasoning mostly founded on xenophobic fears.
Murdoch Stephens, spokesperson and researcher for ‘Doing Our Bit - Double New Zealand's Refugee Quota’ suggests that the quota should keep pace with New Zealand’s rising population. This would increase the quota to 1120 places. But on top of the quota we also take 300 people through family reunification and about 120 people as asylum seekers (once appeals have been counted). Fifteen years ago the average was 500 accepted asylum seekers per year. The significant decrease since then has been due to pre-screening of people before they could get to New Zealand to claim asylum. Since the government closed that window, it should open a door: 380 more places in the quota to make up for the number we used to take. Add this to the population increase and the quota should be 1500 places. NZ would be doubling the quota in nominal terms, but in real terms we'd be doing only what we've done in the past. The average Kiwi will not notice, but the 750 extra people – roughly 200 families – certainly will.
Amnesty International is also calling for New Zealand to double its refugee quota to help deal with the international humanitarian crisis. New Zealand executive director of Amnesty International, Grant Bayldon said New Zealand had not changed its refugee quota in almost 30 years and was ranked 90th in the world for the number of refugees it took annually. He said not only was New Zealand not leading the world in taking its share of refugees, it was a laggard.
Holocaust Research and Education Centre director Inge Woolf said the Government must increase its current refugee limit of 750 people. She said all nations should increase their refugee quotas. "I'm a survivor of the holocaust and I know my family found it very hard to find shelter. We eventually did by going on holiday visas to England, but most of my family didn't." She said asylum seekers faced huge obstacles as they tried to get to safety. Ms Woolf said she had empathy for refugees trying to flee their homelands. "These people are desperate to leave the places they've gone from. They don't do it for a joy ride and it's up to the nations of the world to take in more of them." She said refugees were valuable citizens to the country that took them in. After WW2 New Zealand took about 1,000 Jewish immigrants and said it had done its bit. Paltry, insignificant and inconspicuous are words they use to describe our efforts at rescuing people fleeing the worst persecution the modern world has seen. We now face the biggest refugee crisis since WW2. Sixty million people are displaced. This time, New Zealand should step up and offer to take some of those Syrian refugees. They're no different from us.
"What I am seeing here is quite hard to comprehend," says New Zealander Corinne Ambler who works for the Red Cross in Macedonia "It's hard to believe it's happening in Europe. These are human beings, leaving their homes, they don't want to do that, and people need to show them a little bit of humanity." Corinne Ambler says anyone could become a refugee. "At the end of the day, they're people, they're human beings, and other human beings should treat them like that."
The mayor of Ashburton says making it easier for migrants to work in Canterbury will, in turn, help reinvigorate the region's economy. Angus McKay said he wanted a friendlier, smoother transition for people coming to the area to live and work from abroad. Mr McKay said there had been an influx of migrants into Ashburton over the past 10 years. According to the latest census figures, he said, the average age of people in the district was falling as a result.
It is the lucky few only who manage to break through the mass of regulations and restrictions which the various countries insist on imposing before they will allow a refugee to settle within their boundaries. Every country with room to spare should ease open its bureaucratic door and undertake to accept unfortunate men, women and children in urgent need of help with no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. Human beings are being shunted from one place to another, in response to political events, and treated as objects to be kept at arm's length or sent back as quickly as possible to wherever they came from.
Sadly, under capitalism, artificial lines on maps divide the world into different camps, which enable those who own the Earth to defend their bit of it. A sensible society would have no concept of refugee-hood or any of the other states of oppression. Far better to have a world where men and women can be free to travel over its surface without the futile restrictions of nationality, and where he or she can satisfy their needs from a sufficiency of wealth that only socialism can make available. Inside socialism, where the whole Earth is the common property of the whole world's population, we will all be able to travel our planet to work wherever we desire, safe in the knowledge that our brothers and sisters will welcome us on whichever shore we land.
That is the aim of the World Socialist Party (New Zealand). Shouldn't it be yours, too?
|WORKERS UNITED |
SOLIDARITY HAS NO BORDERS