Doctors, mayors urge Govt to take more refugees

  • 06/09/2015
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade Brown is circulating a letter among mayors asking Prime Minister John Key to increase the cap to 1500 over five years. (Getty Images)
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade Brown is circulating a letter among mayors asking Prime Minister John Key to increase the cap to 1500 over five years. (Getty Images)

More voices are being added to a chorus calling on the government to expand its refugee quota in the wake of the humanitarian crisis in Europe.

The New Zealand Medical Association has joined those asking the government to accept more refugees as people flee the conflict in Syria.

"The need is great," association chairman Stephen Child said.

"The organisations closely involved in providing this support have said we have the capacity. We need to show we have the will to help where we can.

"This is a humanitarian issue and New Zealand needs to make an immediate and meaningful contribution."

New Zealand accepts 750 refugees a year from a range of countries.

Oxfam's New Zealand executive director Rachael Le Mesurier said the government has an obligation to expand its annual quota.

"Accepting a paltry 750 people into New Zealand annually while children wash up on the shores of Europe is an absolute affront to the decency and kindness of the New Zealand people," Ms Le Mesurier said.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade Brown is circulating a letter among mayors asking Prime Minister John Key to increase the cap to 1500 over five years.

The government said yesterday it is still considering all its options on how to contribute.

"We need to take advice on that to ensure any decision made can be backed up with the same level of support and assurances we give to other refugees," a spokeswoman for the prime minister said.

This came after a UN spokeswoman claimed the government had agreed to allow 100 additional Syrian refugees into the country.

The National Party's youth wing and the party's allies - ACT, United Future and the Maori Party - have all called for a review of the quota.

Labour and the Greens will submit a bill on Tuesday to increase the cap to 1500.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said on Saturday the government should take an emergency intake and also expand its annual cap.

The quota was set 28 years ago and is scheduled to be reviewed in 2016.

NZN