World refugee crisis escalates as NZ reaches quota for the first time in four years.

22 Jun 2023 by World Vision
World refugee crisis escalates as NZ reaches quota for the first time in four years.

  • More than eight in ten displaced families do not get enough food to meet their daily nutrition needs.
  • Financial pressure is forcing a quarter of all refugee families to keep their children out of school, with one in five being forced to send their children to work.
  • Significant numbers of families in Afghanistan and Niger report using child marriage as a coping mechanism for decreased income.
  • New Zealand has reached its refugee quota for the first time in four years.
Aid agency World Vision is warning that hunger and violence levels for the world’s refugees are spiralling, but assistance from countries like New Zealand is failing to keep pace.

On World Refugee Day, the child-focused organisation’s annual report on refugee and displaced families reveals sharp increases in hunger and violence against children.

The humanitarian organisation surveyed nearly 850 refugees in 18 different countries for its new report, Invisible and forgotten: Displaced children hungrier and at more risk.

The survey found:
  • Eight in ten families are unable to afford enough food to meet their daily nutritional needs.
  • The number of families who are borrowing from others in order to afford basic necessities has doubled since last year (up to 69% from 34%)
  • A quarter of families keep their children home from school due to financial pressures.
  • Half of refugee and internally displaced children report not having access to essential services such as safe shelter, emergency food and child protection services.
World Vision New Zealand’s Head of Advocacy and Justice, Rebekah Armstrong, says more people than ever before are on the move and there are currently more than 100 million people classified as refugees or internally displaced.

“The world is facing a refugee crisis. Conflict, climate change, and hunger are driving families and children from their homes and it’s vital that countries like New Zealand do their part as good global citizens and help families who have fled with nothing,” she says.

“New Zealand has finally met its refugee quota this year, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that more than 1,200 refugees have missed out on resettling here over the past three years.

“We know Covid-19 played a part and we applaud the steps taken to increase the numbers, but there’s still much more we can and should do.”

World Vision’s Senior Director Disaster Management, Amanda Rives, says the needs of children in places like Syria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are greater than they have ever been.

“Today millions of children are struggling to exist in refugee camps. Too many are being forced to marry in order to survive. Too many are being forced to work in order to survive. They are hungry. They don’t get to go to school. They don’t get to have a childhood. And the world is forgetting about them,” she says.

This is the third year World Vision has surveyed forcibly displaced people and more families than ever before fear their children are at risk of violence (41% up from 30% in 2022).

“We are extremely concerned about the especially high rates of child marriage in Afghanistan and Niger. Many families there have no access to income and no access to food. They are being given an unimaginable choice – to let their children die from starvation or to sell one child into marriage so that they can eat. It is a decision that no parent should have to make and it is an outrage that this is happening in 2023,” Rives says.

Most families surveyed by World Vision said that they had dreams of supporting their families and rebuilding their countries. However, with so many malnourished children out of school, and a lack of funding and assistance, the future for too many is bleak.

Armstrong says World Vision New Zealand has advocated for the New Zealand Government to provide assistance to both refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan in recent years, but more resource needs to be put into community and settlement infrastructure so that we can meet our quota and exceed it.

“At a time when the world has more refugees than ever before, it’s not good enough to be failing to provide humanitarian assistance and good settlement experiences for refugees due to lack of resourcing.

“Refugees are agents of their own future. If they receive the help that they need, they can rebuild their lives and thrive in countries such as New Zealand. And they can in turn contribute much to our communities here,” she says.

“Refugees from protracted situations and displaced families need to be prioritised. Their children deserve a childhood. They deserve dignity. They deserve to be remembered. New Zealand needs to respond and play its part as a responsible global citizen and fulfil its refugee quota at the bare minimum,” she says.

In addition to advocating for refugees here in New Zealand, World Vision supports refugees in multiple countries around the world by providing emergency food, shelter, medical care, education and psychological support.

To help World Vision support children living in some of the world’s toughest places, you can donate at

Notes to editor:
  • World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to tackle the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.
  • The survey was conducted between March and April 2023 in 18 countries – Afghanistan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Colombia, the DRC, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Peru, South Sudan, Uganda, and Venezuela.
  • The survey used a mix of sampling methodologies (random, purposive, and convenience sampling) covering 847 households across all 18 countries, with the average number of 6 people per household. Please check the report annexes for full methodology.
  • NZ immigration Refugee and Protection Statistics: