The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Seeing and hearing our migrant brothers and sisters

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Event date: 
16 Jun 2020

Sunday, June 21 marks the Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants in New Zealand. In the week leading up to this day of prayer, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Catholic Bishops’ organisation for justice, peace and development, is inviting communities to reflect on the issue of migrant exploitation around the theme “Where is your brother or sister?”

Existing problems of exploitation of migrant workers in New Zealand are being exacerbated in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Up to 200,000 migrant workers were stranded in New Zealand during the lockdown with little or no work or any means of earning an income.

“Pope Francis continues to challenge us to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees in our communities,” says Caritas Director Julianne Hickey. “We must not look away but take special care to see and hear our migrant brothers and sisters who are experiencing exploitation.”

While there are significant challenges for New Zealand to overcome in relation to its treatment of migrant workers there are signs of progress concerning helping refugee settlement.

In a recent announcement the government decided to extend the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship (CORS) pilot. As a pilot sponsor, Caritas and its community partners, together with other sponsoring organisations, supported the settlement of six refugee families in New Zealand in 2018. The new extension of the pilot will facilitate the settlement of up to 150 refugees in Aotearoa New Zealand from 2021 to 2023.

“We welcome the extension of the CORS pilot programme as a sign of New Zealand’s commitment to addressing the plight of refugees around the world,” says Hickey. “We must also continue to look within our own communities to ensure that refugees and migrants, who are among the most vulnerable, are supported and celebrated rather than exploited.”

Caritas resources for the Day of Prayer for Refugees and Migrants are available to download for free at https://caritas.org.nz/parishes/day-of-prayer.

Those interested in developments of the extended CORS pilot are invited to email their details to Suzanne Malan at suzanne.malan@mbie.govt.nz. Updated information on the pilot programme will also be available on Immigration New Zealand’s website: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/.

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