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Govt set to raise refugee quota

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/06/2016
Prime Minister John Key says lifting the refugee quota is 'certainly an option' © Getty Images Prime Minister John Key says lifting the refugee quota is 'certainly an option'

New Zealand's annual refugee quota will be increased from 750 to 1000 from 2018 - the first increase to the quota in close to 30 years.

Prime Minister John Key and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse made the announcement on Monday afternoon, ahead of world refugee day on Wednesday.

Mr Key says increasing the quota will cost the government an extra $25 million a year, taking the total cost of helping resettle refugees to $100m a year.

There has been growing pressure on the government over the last few months to double the annual refugee quota to 1500.

But Mr Woodhouse defended the smaller increase, saying the government was focused on the quality of resettlement services offered, as well as quantity.

"It's not enough simply to relocate them in a strange country and leave them," he told reporters.

"There's a significant investment that needs to be made to ensure that the settlement outcomes are good and the government is committed to doing that."

Lifting the quota means the government will announce a further resettlement location next year, adding to the six locations where refugees already go after they've completed an initial programme at the Mangere refugee resettlement centre.

The new quota kicks in once the emergency intake of Syrian refugees has been resettled.

The government announced back in September that it would welcome 750 Syrian refugees over the next three years in response to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Of the 750 places, 600 are via a special emergency intake above the annual refugee quota while 150 places are offered within the quota.

Both Mr Key and Mr Woodhouse will be attending the official reopening of the refurbished Mangere refugee resettlement centre on Saturday.

A large group gathered in Aotea Square calling for an increase in number of refugees to be allowed into New Zealand. Saturday, September 19, 2015. © SNPA A large group gathered in Aotea Square calling for an increase in number of refugees to be allowed into New Zealand. Saturday, September 19, 2015.

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