First Syrian refugees under new quota identified

8:12 am on 24 September 2015

Immigration New Zealand says it has already identified about 80 Syrian refugees who could be eligible to come here under an emergency quota.

Refugees walk on a Berlin railway platform platform after getting out of a special train coming from Munich.

The emergency quota for Syrian refugees was sparked by the growing humanitarian crisis in Europe. Photo: AFP

The government announced earlier this month it would accept 600 Syrian refugees over the next two and a half years, over and above the annual refugee quota of 750.

Immigration New Zealand national refugee and protection manager Andrew Lockhart said five officials would travel to Beirut next month to meet the refugees.

"We've got around 80 of them so far, and we're expecting to interview about 150-200 people. It'll be in Beirut in Lebanon, they're not in camps, they're out in the community."

Mr Lockhart said about 100 would arrive in January, followed by about 75 in March and the same amount in May.

The cost of the additional places is estimated at $48.8 million over two and a half years, according to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

He said the extra funds were on top of the $58 million the government already spent annually on resettling refugees.

He said churches could also take a role to help refugees settle here.

The bulk of refugees would probably go into Housing New Zealand homes, mainly in Wellington, where there was a large Syrian community, while churches are also expected to help refugees settle in this country.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs