Immigration Team Prepares To Leave For Macedonia

  • John Delamare

Immigration Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, said today the New Zealand Immigration Service refugee selection team was making final preparations before leaving for the refugee camps in Macedonia on Saturday. The team is Cheryl Hall, Julie Hill and Christina Brennan, all based in Auckland.

Cheryl and Julie have specialist experience in refugee selection, while Christina is a refugee status determination officer.

Mr Delamere said the Immigration Service has been in constant contact with the Albanian community in New Zealand, determining which families have relatives in the camps and getting as much information about them as possible before going to the border.

"The cost of funding the travel, accommodation, English language lessons, education, health and counselling needs of the 200 families that will come to New Zealand is still being worked out.

"Ministers have already agreed an additional $916,000 will be spent this financial year to fund the teams going to Macedonia and their associated costs as well as the initial needs of the refugees."

On arrival in New Zealand, the refugees will undertake an induction programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre. During this time they will have medical checks and be linked with relevant social service agencies. Where possible, the induction period will be limited to one week in order to free up places for new arrivals and place families in the community with support from their relatives.

It is recognised however that such a short period may not be appropriate for all families, and a case by case approach will be taken. "In addition, the Government has committed an extra $1.8 million dollars (excluding GST) over the next three years to improve services offered to refugees," said Mr Delamere.

It is hoped the first group of refugees will arrive in New Zealand in approximately two and a half weeks.

Media note: The assessment team will be at the Mangere Refugee Settlement

Centre and available for interviews after 1pm today.