Syrian Kiwis call for NZ refugee quota increase

  • 19/09/2015
Syrian Kiwis call for NZ refugee quota increase

By Kim Vinnell

Syrian Kiwis are disputing claims Islamic State (IS) is mostly to blame for the global refugee crisis.

US Secretary of State John Kerry says the extremists are responsible for the surge in people seeking refuge. But many of those at an Auckland refugee rally today say that's simply not true.

While some are too young to know the horror their parents fled, others live in constant fear for their families.

"Every day they prepare themselves to die because you don't when the aircraft will bomb your house," says Syrian Kiwi Abdul.

Migrants, refugees and New Zealand-born Kiwis rallied together, calling on Wellington to further open the doors.

"In a world where we treat global commodities as borderless, we haven't yet found a way to make our humanity borderless," says Labour MP Jacinda Ardern.

For Syrian Kiwis like Wassim Chamma, the situation is particularly desperate. In Aleppo, after four years of civil war, most of the city is rubble.

"To think that this place is not there anymore, it's not available for my children to see anymore, it leaves a hole in your heart."

Mr Kerry has blamed the current refugee crisis on IS.

"ISIL needs to be stopped and destroyed. It is obviously the most significant player in the massive migrant crisis."

Syrian Kiwis say that's just not true.

"If you ask a small child from Syria, he will say no, the regime," says Abdul. "You see the videos every day. How do you want us to disbelieve our eyes?"

"Yes ISIS are terrorists but we still are keeping a blind eye to the actual regime," says Mr Chamma.

More than 200,000 people have been killed in the Syrian war and more than 4 million forced to leave their homes.

The people here know that the refugee quota has recently been increased from 750 a year to include an extra 600 Syrian refugees over the next two-and-half years. But still they say it's simply not enough.

"We believe that because of the scale of the emergency we should do our fair bit as other Western countries are doing, and we should take 10,000 refugees," says organiser Joe Carolan.

The need is there these people say. All New Zealand needs is the will do to more.

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