16 Jun 2020

Foreigners in New Zealand offered relief, but no cash payments

8:41 pm on 16 June 2020

Foreigners left high and dry due to the Covid-19 crisis will now be able to apply for food, clothing, blankets and accommodation from a new assistance programme.

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Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Poto Williams. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

As many as 20,000 foreigners are thought to be in serious hardship in New Zealand, but unable to access benefits.

Civil Defence has been offering emergency support but, from July, a new aid programme will take over run by a yet to be determined NGO.

The Assistance for Foreign Nationals impacted by COVID-19 Programme will provide temporary, assistance to eligible people to help meet basic needs such as food and accommodation.

No cash payments will be offered.

Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Poto Williams said the programme will provide short-term assistance until they find means of supporting themselves in New Zealand or are able to return home.

The Foreign Minister Winston Peters said people should return to their home country if they can't support theselves, but if not possible, they can apply for help after exhausting all other avenues.

"There are a number of foreign nationals in New Zealand on temporary visas who, due to Covid-19, have found themselves in a tight spot," Peters said

The $37.6 million programme will operate for three months.

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