I recently made a documentary about the treatment of refugees in New Zealand. It's entitled "Stepping Up: New Zealand's response to the refugee crisis" and looks at some of the issues NZ faces with refugees coming into the country, including statistics of how the country compares with the rest of the world. (For more about this project go to the filmmaking section of this website).
A press release that's just come out from the Refugee Council of New Zealand highlights some of these issues.
A couple of years ago when I was working on an assignment in Qatar I heard how the number of World Cup stadia for 2022 were scaled back because they were plagued by infighting and corruption.
While Australia takes a back step in its refugee policy, the Refugee Council of New Zealand urges the New Zealand government to take leadership in the Pacific and accept refugees from among the displaced Rohingya and Bangladeshi for resettlement.
As a country that forms part of the Asia-Pacific neighbourhood, New Zealand should demonstrate leadership in the area of refugee protection, as it is has done in the past. While New Zealand has no legal obligation under the Refugee Convention to which is a party, to take refugees until they arrive within our borders, nonetheless, in the spirit of the Convention, we need to step up to the plate when there is a refugee crisis in our neighbourhood, as we did some years ago in the case of refugees on the ship, The Tampa, and at least extend an offer to accept some of the people who are suffering in the present refugee crisis.
Recently, opposition leader Andrew Little and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, both publicly stated the need to increase the number of refugees we take in each year. That number presently stands at a paltry 750, the same as it was in 1987.
The official position of Myanmar is that its ethnic Rohingya minority who constitute the majority of refugees now experiencing extreme conditions aboard unsafe vessels, do not belong to Myanmar, but are illegal immigrants. It accepts no responsibility for them. Do we, like Myanmar, "wash our hands"?