New refugee scheme 'groundbreaking'

The Mangere Refugee Centre is preparing to process 25 new refugees under the new community sponsorship category.

A pilot scheme has been launched, with community groups in Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Timaru taking about a quarter each.

Refugees as Survivors chief executive Dr Ann Hood says their first two weeks in the centre will help set up their new lives.

"AUT provide English language and orientation to New Zealand. There's a medical screening service. Work and Income are there to set up people with benefits if required. And there's a mental health service which provides assessment and brief therapy."

The first refugees to come in under the programme arrive in June. Dr Hood says it's a promising scheme.

"It's groundbreaking for New Zealand in so far as we have never really done this previously. I think it is a positive way of increasing the quota and giving more refugees the opportunity of resettlement."

The quota was last year lifted to 1000. Labour promised to increase it to 1500 a year.

The 25 refugees taking part in this new scheme, initiated by the previous National Government, will be in addition to the usual quota.


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