16 Mar 2016

New 'climate change refugee' case

9:18 am on 16 March 2016

A man from Tuvalu has become the latest person from the Pacific to argue climate change factors should be considered in his bid for refugee status in New Zealand.

Funafuti's oceanside shoreline, Tuvalu

Climate change has led to sea level rises in Tuvalu. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

The 25-year-old said the water on his home island was not drinkable and he would be discriminated against in finding a job because of his criminal convictions.

Immigration New Zealand said 11 people had claimed asylum in New Zealand in the last five years because of climate change.

A family from Tuvalu was granted residence two years ago on humanitarian grounds, which included climate change.

In the latest case, the man told the Immigration and Protection Tribunal he would be faced with poor water and sanitation conditions in Tuvalu.

He said it would be unfair to take his wife and children to a country "where climatic change is contributing to a declining economy, deteriorating social conditions, lack of employment opportunities and much poorer standards of health care and education to those to which they are entitled in New Zealand."

The father-of-two said he would not be allowed to get a job because of his convictions, which included indecent assault.

The tribunal ruled that a two-year ban on public service employment in Tuvalu for the man would not amount to persecution.

The Immigration and Protection Tribunal rejected his appeal and his lawyer said they were considering whether there could be a further appeal.

[View the full ruling here https://forms.justice.govt.nz/search/IPT/Documents/RefugeeProtection/pdf/ref_20151020_800859.pdf]

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