23 May 2015

Call for more rights for refugees

3:59 pm on 23 May 2015

About 100 protestors from Amnesty International held yellow balloons and chanted for improved rights for refugees outside parliament today.

They want the country's refugee quota increased, and say 100 extra Syrian refugees should be resettled this year.

Protesters gathered near the Beehive in Wellington.

Protesters gathered near the Beehive in Wellington. Photo: Supplied

Amnesty International executive director Grant Bayldon said New Zealand lagged behind other countries.

He said the human rights organisation would fight for an increase in the refugee quota.

"New Zealand's well down the international rankings, even on a per capita basis, on the number of refugees it takes," he said.

"We're currently 87th - Australia takes three times as many as New Zealand, that's on a per capita basis."

Radio New Zealand spoke with Eritrean refugee Ibrahim Omer, who moved to New Zealand in 2008 and is now a Politics student. He wants the government to accept more refugees like him.

Mr Omer said New Zealand had the potential to be a more accepting country.

"We have millions of displaced refugees - and so this is a time where if countries want to do something, it's now or never - because if you don't do anything now, when?" he said.

"Big parts of the world are torn by war and the refugees are dying... I think New Zealand can do a lot better."

A spokesperson for Michael Woodhouse said the Immigration Minister had an open mind about increasing the refugee quota next year, at the next available opportunity in July next year.

Mr Bayldon said the Government had to act, especially in the case of people fleeing war-torn Syria.

"Countries nearer to where the crises are in the world - Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia - we've seen them step up and do something at least," he said.

"So far, New Zealand really hasn't stepped up at all, but it can do, and this is an issue that New Zealanders care about and want to see the Government do its fair share - and it can do."

About four million refugees have already fled Syria.

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