NZers urged to share the peace and welcome refugees

The Human Rights Commission says New Zealand can help its own citizens and also provide refuge to people escaping violence and war.

“We can help our own people and we can also save some of the world’s most vulnerable people. It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” said Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy.

“This isn’t just about politics: this is about humanity. It isn’t just about doing the right thing: it’s about doing the humane thing.”

“We have failed. On our first World Refugee Day in 2001 there were around 12 million refugees: there are now 73 million people, most of them children, escaping violence and persecution,” said Dame Susan.

“According to this week’s Global Peace Index, New Zealand is one of the most peaceful places on the planet.”

“Fourth in the world to be exact.”

“Nor surprisingly Syria – with more than half its own people refugees or displaced – came last in the Global peace Index,” said Dame Susan.

Last week Pope Francis made an appeal: Don’t close the door to those seeking a better life.

Francis made the comments during his weekly general audience Wednesday. He thanked those who care for refugees and urged governments to act together to prevent forced migration.

Speaking off-the-cuff, he said: “I invite all of you to ask forgiveness for those who close the door on these people who are looking for life, for a family, and to be cared for.”

National Director of Christian World Service Pauline Mckay said the global community cannot ignore the drivers of this dislocation or afford to meet the escalating demands for humanitarian assistance.

In July New Zealand will take on the presidency of the United Nations Security Council. It is a unique opportunity to change the game plan to one where countries work together to stop the wars that create refugees.

“We are facing one of the biggest refugee crises in history. It is not business as usual. There are many more people in desperate need than humanitarian agencies like Christian World Service and the global ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) of which it is a member can help.

“Much more must be done at the national and international level to stop wars and help refugees,” says McKay.


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