1400 refugees waiting to move to New Zealand could face another two-year delay

One-thousand-four-hundred refugees waiting to move to New Zealand could be held up for another two years.

It's a year today since the refugee quota was paused because of COVID-19, and just a fraction of the expected number has arrived.

Making a cuppa without the sound of crashing bombs is not something refugee advocate Kodrean Eashae takes for granted.

When Islamic State stormed into Iraq in 2014 his family was forced to flee.

"They killed everyone, it was so scary at times and I'm lucky that I'm safe and with family," Eashae says.

That same year his mother and brothers were re-settled in New Zealand, but it was another four years before Kodrean joined them.

"That was the happiest moment when I get that call - 'ok the application is approved'," he says.

But 1400 other refugees have spent a year or more waiting to resettle here - a thousand of them already have New Zealand visas.

Kodrean's neighbour's son is one of them.

"They may leave him there for another two or three years," Eashae says.

"They're in desperate situations and many of them are children - that's our concern, we want to get this group to New Zealand where we know they're safe," says Rachel O'Connor, New Zealand Red Cross' general manager migration.

This was meant to be the first year of the Government's commitment to a Refugee Quota of 1500 places. But instead just 78 emergency cases have been re-settled here since the nationwide lockdown a year ago.

And only another 210 refugees will be allowed in before the end of June.

"We're in this really privileged position where we can welcome sports teams, we can welcome entertainers - we just need to make sure we don't forget people who urgently need our help as well," O'Connor says.

But those in need are in for an even longer wait.

"We'd hope to get that back up to the 1500 that we committed to pre-COVID hopefully in the 2022/23 year," says Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.

The Government is being urged to reconsider.

"If we make them all wait we're damaging them too much of their mental health," Eashae says.

Some of those people still waiting in camps for their new life in New Zealand.