Today, the Ukrainian community of New Zealand and the New Zealand humanitarian sector sent an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Immigration urging for increased humanitarian support by way of foreign aid, visas and support for refugees fleeing Ukraine.
The letter was created in partnership with Mahi for Ukraine, a taskforce representing Ukrainian community organisations in New Zealand. It has been signed by 11 NGOs and asks the New Zealand Government to agree to the following:
Permit immediate entry to New Zealand for the immediate and close family members of New Zealand Ukrainian citizens on humanitarian grounds.
Increase New Zealand’s refugee quota from 1500 to 4000 for the 2022/2023 period, with an allotment of Ukrainian refugees and focus on women and children.
Increase Government humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine from $2m to $20m.
Establish a specific consultation group with representation from Ukrainian New Zealanders to assist with humanitarian policy and settlement of Ukrainian citizens.
The recommendations from the Ukrainian community and leaders in the New Zealand humanitarian sector come as the conflict worsens in Ukraine, and two weeks on from Russia launching a full-scale invasion into Ukraine. There are currently 1500 Ukrainians living in New Zealand, and almost every one of them has family in Ukraine who are directly affected by the conflict.
“The recommendations in the joint letter represent repeated humanitarian asks to the New Zealand government from Ukrainian New Zealanders. We are grateful the New Zealand humanitarian sector is backing these and thankful for the support,” says Kate Turska, Mahi for Ukraine humanitarian spokeswoman.
“The New Zealand Government has been slow in its response so far, and more needs to be done for humanitarian assistance and to open pathways for refugees to safely get here,” says World Vision National Director Grant Bayldon.
“There is growing urgency to ramp up the response to the escalating humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Already, over 2 million refugees have fled the country, many with just the clothes on their backs and nowhere to go.”
Through discussions with Ukraine nationals living in New Zealand, the humanitarian sector has been able to develop targeted and achievable asks. What the humanitarian sector in partnership with the Ukrainian community is asking for is for the Government to take more urgent action to support those affected by the conflict at this crucial time.
In addition to the above requests, the open letter also recommends an extension to the essential skills and long-term skills shortage visas to citizens of Ukraine and to designate funding to actively recruit refugees to fulfil skill shortages that would enhance the New Zealand economy.
“Millions of people are suffering; the situation is deteriorating hourly. There are Ukrainian citizens who are highly skilled and could make a great contribution to the New Zealand economy, addressing labour market shortages. We really must do more to help before it is too late,” says Viktoriya Pashorina-Nichols, a Mahi for Ukraine immigration spokeswoman.
Other key asks are for the Government to agree to pay for all managed isolation quarantine stays for citizens of Ukraine that enter New Zealand, if required, and to establish a consultation group with representation from New Zealand’s Ukrainian community to advise the Government and assist with the settlement of those citizens.
“We thank Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the work already undertaken to address the war and humanitarian situation in Ukraine,” says Bayldon.
“However, there is much more that the New Zealand Government can do right now to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the humanitarian sector together with the Ukrainian community of New Zealand hopes that the Government urgently implements these joint recommendations.”
Read the open letter here.
For further information, please contact:
World Vision: Linda Shackelford firstname.lastname@example.org or 027 886 1760
Mahi for Ukraine: Kate Turska email@example.com or 029 779 2000