Govt to allow 100 Syrian refugees - UNHCR


The Government has rejected a claim it has agreed to take 100 refugees from Syria.

UN refugee agency spokeswoman Ariane Rummery told The Nation today the New Zealand Government had heeded a call to take additional refugees over its quota.

"New Zealand has said it will take 100 Syrian refugees from the major refugee-hosting countries in the region and that's on top of its normal quota," she said.

But a spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key's office said the Government had made no decision on the issue.

"The Government is looking at all options and we are not ruling out doing more across a range of areas," she said.

"But 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."

New Zealand takes 750 refugees a year from a range of nations.

Race Relations Commission Dame Susan Devoy told The Nation the Government needed to take immediate action to put an emergency intake in place and increase the quota.

"We're in the review process now so from 2016 to 2019 we can progressively increase the quota so it's doubled in five year's time," she said.

Yesterday, the Young Nats called on the Government to bring forward the review of New Zealand's annual refugee quota, and act to increase the number of refugees resettled here.

Labour and the Greens are also going to ask Parliament to pass legislation that increases New Zealand's refugee quota.

On Tuesday, the two parties will present bills and seek permission for them to be urgently debated.

Labour leader Andrew Little's bill doubles the annual intake from 750 to 1500.

Political parties - including the Government's allies ACT, United Future and the Maori Party - have called for a quota increase.

It was set 28 years ago and is scheduled to be reviewed next year.

Mr Key has been reluctant to act quickly, but softened his stance on Thursday.