Schoolgirl tells parliament of her escape from Myanmar

10:39 am on 16 February 2016

A schoolgirl has spoken at parliament about how she and her family escaped Myanmar when she was six years old and found refuge in New Zealand.

A vigil at Parliament calling for New Zealand to double its refugee quota.

A vigil at parliament in September last year calling for New Zealand to double its refugee quota. Photo: RNZ / Benedict Collins

Jaseng, whose last name we agreed not to use, was at a public hearing looking into a possible increase in the 750-a-year refugee quota, which the government is due to review this year.

The 15-year-old managed to flee across the Thai border with her brother and mother after her father, who was a member of the Kachin minority, was killed by the Burmese Army.

She said New Zealand should help more refugees and and she revealed she dreamt of being reunited with relatives still left in a Thai refugee camp.

"Cos my oldest brother has two kids and a wife and my older brother is still single, I want them to come, and for my nephews to have great education here," she said.

A refugee speaking in support of increasing the quota at a hearing yesterday.

Refugee Ibrahim Omer speaking in support of increasing the quota at a hearing yesterday. Photo: RNZ / Gill Bonnett

Ibrahim Omer, who fled Eritrea and was accepted as a refugee after being accused of spying in Sudan, said every country had to do its best to alleviate the world's refugee crisis.

He said while the government was saying that increasing the quota would be a small help to the millions of refugees in need, Mr Omer said for every child, woman and family who was resettled, it was life changing.

Amnesty International told the hearing that the refugee crisis was at its worst in 70 years.

Grant Bayldon

Grant Bayldon Photo: Supplied

Executive director Grant Bayldon said New Zealand was part of that problem because it had not increased its quota for almost 30 years and had fallen to 90th in the world based on the number of refugees it took per capita.

He said calls for an increase in the quota were supported by opposition parties and the Government's support partners, and there had been a groundswell of public opinion including more than a thousand people pledging to accommodate refugees themselves.

The creator of a campaign group Doing Our Bit, Murdoch Stephens, said the Government should double its funding and the quota to make up the 29-year gap when there was no increase.

Murdoch Stephens, creator of the campaign group Doing Our Bit, at a public hearing at Parliament on raising the refugee quota. 15 February 2016.

Murdoch Stephens, creator of the campaign group Doing Our Bit. Photo: RNZ / Gill Bonnett

Speaking at a post-Cabinet media conference yesterday, Prime Minister John Key said it was too early for him to say whether New Zealand may increase its annual quota of refugees.

Mr Key said the Government's three-yearly review of the United Nations quota was due in the next few months and he did not want to speculate on its outcome.

He said he would consider the capability and capacity for resettling more refugees and the pros and cons of doing that.

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