26 Sep 2015

Wellington to take in first Syrian refugees

10:09 am on 26 September 2015

The capital city will be absorbing the first intake of the government's emergency quota of Syrian refugees.

Wellington CBD

Wellington city Photo: 123rf

The government announced earlier this month that it would accept 600 Syrian refugees over the next two-and-a-half years.

Wellington deputy mayor Justin Lester said the city will take all 85 refugees of the first group in January.

Mr Lester said the reasons behind that decision were that Wellington had the nation's largest community of Syrian refugees and had social housing available to take the influx.

The refugees were currently being housed in Lebanon, a country that has taken in about 1.5 million people fleeing Syria, he said.

"It's not intended that they will stay there. That's not sustainable for the Syrian refugees nor the Lebanese population or government."

Wellington will take 250 Syrian refugees during 2016, on top of five scheduled refugee groups from other nations.

Mr Lester expected the refugees will go through a huge cultural shock when they first arrive in the city.

"For the most part [they'll] be a disparate group, wide-ranging in terms of education, in terms of international travel, in terms of literacy.

"Some will have experience in tragedy so we want to make sure we cannot only house them, but then support them and integrate them into the community."

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