Humanitarian crisis in Queenstown

humanitarian crisis

A mounting humanitarian crisis is brewing in Queenstown with thousands of migrant workers trapped there with no money for food or rent.

The Salvation Army says with most migrants unable to return to their home countries due to travel and lockdown restrictions, the situation is becoming akin to a “refugee crisis” – with about 6,000 people needing urgent help.

Queenstown’s Mayor Jim Boult said his council is keeping track of 9000 people in his area on temporary visas who have called for some form of assistance.

The Government says it is providing support for the migrant workers with support through Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM).

However, Boult said the CDEM funding had its limitations.

He understood it was only viable for a relatively short period of time and mainly consisted of food vouchers.

He said philanthropic people in his area had put together a fund to supplement CDEM support, but warned it would get used up “relatively quickly” and many migrants would be liable for eviction once lockdown lifted.

“Once the Civil Defence money runs out and once the supplementary wage runs out we’re going to have some thousands of people who don’t have an income and are in danger of not having a place to live.”

The Salvation. Army’s Community Ministries Queenstown director Lieutenant Andrew Wilson said those stranded included families and young people.

“They’re the ones that have now been without income for upwards of four to even six weeks, and are still stuck in lockdown for a considerable period more and are staring down a barrel of no means of supporting themselves whatsoever.”

He says short-term welfare will not resolve an ongoing issue.

“Giving food parcels and material goods is like putting a band-aid on the Titanic.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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