|+ By the time you read this newsletter 20 more people will be forced from their home
Tomorrow, June 20, is World Refugee Day.
On World Refugee Day, we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees, and former-refugees living in New Zealand. This year also marks a key moment for the New Zealand public to show support for families forced to flee.
With 65.6 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, this day is more relevant than ever.
In New Zealand, there has been positive steps in the last year to be with us raising our refugee quota to 1500 by the year 2020. Along with a trial for a Community Sponsorship programme that will be similar to Canada's hugely successful equivalent. The year-long ‘Tikanga Māori’ project, designed to help former-refugees resettlement in New Zealand by connecting them to the local Māori community, culture and history, has also been a big success.
However, the global situation of refugees isn't positive at all and raises the question - what more can New Zealand do?
With more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the situation is lethal as monsoon season has arrived. In one weekend they received more than a third of the rainfall typically received during the entire monsoon period.
Meanwhile in Europe, the treatment of refugees in France is appalling and has been called out in an Oxfam report. Oxfam says France should immediately stop and punish the "illegal practices of the French police at the French-Italian border", ensure the right to seek asylum for all foreign children in French territory and take care of them according to international law.
In Greece, refugees are still arriving in the hundreds every day and there are now reports from NGOs on the ground, that an increasing amount of people are being rejected at the border with Turkey. "They do not even get the chance to ask for asylum in Greece before they are being pushed back across the Evros river — where they came from. If the police or army do this, they are breaking international law. This is illegal. You have a right to claim asylum in Greece, when you reach Greece."
Meanwhile, the EU leaders will meet in Brussels at the end of June to discuss broader asylum reform. The hardening line comes amid concern that numbers of people coming to the EU via Italy and Greece will keep going up and amid a wave of support for anti-immigrant populists. The proposal is to have camps situated in Europe but outside the EU to deal with asylum claims before asylum-seekers enter the EU.
In Australia, community sector leaders have gathered in Canberra to protest cuts to asylum seeker support payments, as a new report reveals that government policy is driving people seeking asylum into destitution.
The appalling situation on the American border is worsening by the hour, as the Trump administration's new enforcement policy is put into action. The policy says every migrant who crosses the border illegally – even those seeking asylum in the US – is subject to criminal prosecution. So far almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents. With false claims by Trump that "crime in Germany is way up" also causing controversy as he blames Merkel's refugee policy, saying it had been a "big mistake" to allow people sanctuary.