While we have countries that are busy building walls and strewing their borders with barbed wire, the Government has just agreed to increase its annual refugee to 1500 people starting in 2020. This is a welcome commitment and one that we should celebrate because it represents an important step in recognising our role in responding to the global forced migration crisis, writes Jay Marlowe.
Soon after this news was announced, a National Party press release was issued claiming that in New Zealand “it costs around $100,000 per person per year to properly settle refugees”. This sensationalist statement was picked up by a number of journalists and reported in mainstream media.
But this claim and subsequent media reporting is misleading.
Asking for clarification and confirmation, the associated ministry informed me the $100,000 costing was established in 2016 for 1000 refugees over threeyears. It includes the costs for refugee specific services (reception, settlement support, etc) and the mainstream services (health, welfare, education, housing, etc), which would be the same for many New Zealanders.
Further, the number also fails to recognise and consider the contributions that refugees can and do make.