7 Mar 2012

Mangere Refugee Centre future in doubt

4:20 pm on 7 March 2012

A refugee support group says New Zealand's only refugee resettlement centre is a huge asset to the community and should not be closed.

A briefing paper to the Immigration Minister has revealed the future of the Mangere Refugee Centre in Auckland is in doubt.

Run by Immigration New Zealand, the centre provides a home for six weeks for refugees weeks who undertake courses, medical checks, language training and other programmes to help with resettlement.

The briefing paper says many refugees are failing to find jobs or gain educational qualifications and a high number are on benefits and living in state housing.

It says the building housing the centre is old, and at the end of its useful life.

Chief executive of the agency Refugee Services Aotearoa, Heather Hayden, says the centre is world-acclaimed and cannot blamed for the low level of employment.

A spokeserperson for support group Survivors New Zealand says no assurance has been given by the Government that the centre will be re-built.

However, the Government says it remains committed to supporting new refugees and helping them adapt to life here.