Sponsors chosen for new scheme to bring in additional refugees

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. Photo credit: Supplied

In a first for New Zealand, four community organisations have been chosen to take in and sponsor refugees, in addition to those brought in under the Government quota.

The pilot scheme was initiated by the previous National Government and will see additional refugees brought to New Zealand, under sponsorship from community organisations.

The church groups will help 25 refugees settle and provide "pastoral care", such as help enrolling in school, GPs, English classes and support towards self-sufficiency.

"All parties in Parliament wanted to explore this as an option that's different to the traditional Government support," Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Newshub.

The church organisations will "take on the role the Government plays, alongside the Red Cross, for most refugees".

Under the Labour-led Government, 1500 refugees will be brought in under the quota each year.

The community organisations will provide housing and support usually provided by the Government, in conjunction with the Red Cross. Refugees who come in under the pilot scheme will still be entitled to other benefits.

The four chosen organisations are Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand (Wellington), Gleniti Baptist Church (Timaru), South West Baptist Church (Christchurch) and the Society of St Vincent de Paul (Nelson).

The chosen refugees will first take part in a two-week programme at Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

The pilot programme will be completed by December 2018 and "used to inform any future implementation of the new category".