Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud takes in 750 refugees a year. This measly number means that we are 87th in the world in per capita rankings. We haven’t changed this number in 30 years.
When Amnesty International (and loads of other organisations) started calling on the New Zealand government to do its bit and increase the quota we were hit with excuse after excuse.
I could go through and answer the most common ones here, but I won’t. You can google that.
Instead I want to draw attention to a very good NZ Herald article here. It is a story about three people. Three refugees who fled their homes and came to New Zealand. Rez Ricardo’s story (the first one) struck home for me, she was a child living in a refugee camp. I have small children, and I just can’t imagine what it would be like to have to flee our home and everything we know and love to go across the world, sometimes in a rickety boat, sometimes across large expanses of land… just in the vague hope that the other side is safe.
Amnesty International’s secretary general came to visit recently, and he said one thing that I’d like to leave you with. He said that if NZ raised its quota from 750 to 1000, or even doubling the quota to 1500, it was a mere drop in the ocean. So, our very own prime minister countered this with the futility that we must all feel. If it is a mere drop in the ocean, why bother?
Well, Salil said*, I’ll tell you why you should bother. These are lives. They are people. That is 750 PEOPLE you are talking about. It isn’t a drop in the ocean, it is another 750 lives that you are saving. It is another 750 members of society who would be damn grateful to get a safe life here, away from the strife and the war.
If you feel the same as me, please join all of us decent kiwis.
Tweet at Minister Woodhouse (@WoodhouseMP) and ask him to really think about #raisetthequota
(check out @amnestynz‘s feed for ideas)
Or better yet, call him, talk to him, tell him that you are an average kiwi who wants to help save another 750 lives (or more!)