Delamere responds to Refugee and Migrant Service

  • John Delamare

Immigration Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, today responded to complaints from the Refugee and Migrant Service that it had not been consulted immediately by the Government over the question of accepting displaced people from East Timor.

"The primary role of the RMS is to help the annual quota of 750 United Nations refugees find sponsors and settle into the community," he said.

"The East Timorese will not be part of the normal annual UN quota nor is it intended that they will settle here.

"This means there is probably no need for the RMS to become involved with the East Timorese. There seems to be an impression being touted that only the RMS and other non-governmental organizations have the skills to handle an influx of refugees; I would point out that the Immigration Service has considerable daily experience in these matters.

"Neither does the Government fund the RMS; it purchases services from it so that the RMS can assist the UN quota refugees settle here. Last year the Immigration Service purchased about a quarter of a million dollars worth of services from the RMS, which also received a similar amount from the Community Funding Agency.

"Once the Government has decided exactly how many East Timorese we can take and where they will be housed, the Immigration Service will consult with the NGO's, as necessary, to get their input," concluded the Minister.