Immigration rules discriminatory

An item on Sunday raised ‘serious serious questions’ about NZ’s refugee policy, which has a special rule that requires that refugees from Africa and the Middle East must have family in New Zealand to qualify. And the Minister of Immigration agrees that it is a discriminatory rule and says that Cabinet is reviewing the rule.

1 News: Is it racist? ‘Very serious questions’ raised about fairness of NZ’s refugee policy

New Zealand’s refugee policy is discriminating against vulnerable people from Africa and the Middle East, a TVNZ Sunday investigation has found.
In 2009, the then-National Government introduced the “family link” policy, requiring refugees from Africa and the Middle East to have an existing family connection to New Zealand.

The “family link” rule doesn’t apply to refugees from the Asia-Pacific or the Americas.

While some Middle Eastern refugees have been brought in under emergency intakes, including from Syria, the main refugee quota has been heavily affected by this policy.

New Zealand has been unable to meet its refugee targets for Africa and the Middle East over the past decade.
Refugee leaders and community organisations told Sunday that the policy is racist and unfair.

The “family link” policy has been criticised by Amnesty International and World Vision. Both organisations say they have lobbied the Government, asking for a change in the policy. Those efforts have been unsuccessful.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt told Sunday that he would be “very disappointed if different rules were being applied to refugees from different geographic regions without very good reasons for such an approach”.

In a statement, the UNHCR – the UN’s refugee agency – told TVNZ that refugee laws should be applied “without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin”.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway refused to be interviewed, saying that the issue is before Cabinet and he hopes to make an announcement later in the year.

However on Monday Lees-Galloway responded – Immigration Minister agrees Middle East, Africa refugees rules are discriminatory

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the rules were inherited from the previous government and were being reviewed.

He told Morning Report the official advice he has received was clear about the difficulties with the current quota system.

“They told me that it’s difficult to source sufficient numbers of people to meet the targets that were set by the previous government with that policy in place.

“And that is something that we will need to take into consideration if we want to change the proportion of people that we take from various regions from around the world.”

Mr Lees-Galloway said quota rules run for three years and a government decision about the next three years was “imminent”.

I don’t buy the three year rule claim. Governments change rules when they want to.

It is good that the clear discrimination is being reviewed – but I presume it will require agreement from NZ First to change.

 

Refugee quota to lift just before next election

Jacinda Ardern, with Winston Peters at her side, has announced that the refugee quota will be increased from 1000 to 1500 in July 2020, just before the next election. This year’s budget has already allowed for enlarging refugee facilities.

After Peters’ recent grandstanding on refugees the timing of the increase is curious.

The official announcement:


New Zealand will lift the refugee quota from 1000 to 1500 within this political term, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

“I’m proud that the Coalition Government has today agreed to make such a significant and historic increase to the annual quota of refugees,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“This is the right thing to do. It fulfils New Zealand’s obligation to do our bit and provide a small number of people, displaced by war and disaster each year, a place to call home.

“The quota increase will take place from July 2020. In the meantime, we will work to increase the number and spread of refugee resettlement and support services.  We need to make sure we’re prepared for this change in policy.”

“This will change lives and not just for refugee families. Refugees become great citizens, who bring valuable skills and experience to New Zealand and help make our country a more diverse and vibrant place.”

For 30 years New Zealand’s refugee quota sat at 750 people per year, leading to calls to double the quota. In 2016 the previous government announced an increase to the quota to 1000, which took effect in 2018. All three parties in the government had policies to increase the number of refugees New Zealand accepts.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the quota increase was made possible through a significant boost in funding for refugee services in Budget 2018.

This included money to build and operate two new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre to extend the lifespan of the complex, meet the demands of the current intake of 1000 and help enable an increase in the refugee intake.

“An additional six settlement locations will also be needed around New Zealand on top of the recent re-establishment of Christchurch as a settlement location.

“The number of intakes of refugees and the size of each intake will also be changed from July 2020 while the current six-week reception programme at Mangere will be shortened to five weeks.

“Additional resources will also be provided to ensure that quota refugees are able to live in safe, secure, healthy and affordable homes which best suit their assessed needs.

“The Government will fund the expansion of public housing supply for around 150 extra refugee families at an estimated total cost of $32.5 million over three years,” Iain Lees-Galloway said.

Refugee details

  • The Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment forecasts annual net migration to New Zealand to decline by 22 per cent to 51,000 in the June 2020 year when the increase in the refugee quota will take effect.
  • Budget 2018 provided $6.2 million of new operating funding over the next four years, and $7.7 million of new capital to build and operate two new accommodation blocks at the Centre.
  • There are now eight settlement locations in New Zealand where quota refugees are settled after they have completed the reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre: Auckland region, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington region, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

This increase was Labour policy for last year’s election, and they indicated they wanted to implement it but Peters appeared to put a spoke in the wheel last month.

Peters now says “this is about people, not about politics”.

Stuff: Refugee quota lifting to 1500 by 2020

The announcement ends several weeks of speculation that NZ First would shoot down any attempt by the Government to raise the quota, and fulfils a Labour campaign promise to raise the quota within their first term of Government.

Labour campaigned on doubling the quota from 750 to 1500 in their first term of Government, and seemed confident that this policy would make it through Cabinet as recently as August.

But early this month Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters cast doubt on this, saying he wanted the Government to help Kiwis in strife before raising the quota.

“We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota,” Peters said when questioned by reporters.

When it was suggested Labour had, Peters said: “Labour’s not the government.”

“We’ve got 50,000 people who are homeless back home, and I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, where people are living in degradation.

Peters, who appeared alongside Ardern at the announcement on Wednesday, said he was now sure the Government was already addressing the issues in New Zealand, pointing specifically to Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s “explosion in house-building.”

There hasn’t been a sudden change in how housing issues are being addressed, so this looks like a sudden change in Peters’ position of refugees.

The decision was made in a cabinet subcommittee on Wednesday.

Ardern said there had been no “quid pro quo” to get NZ First to agree to the deal, while Peters rejected the idea that his party had ever horse traded on any policy in its history.

This looks like a win for Labour and a backdown from Peters, unless he was just playing politics when he upstaged Ardern at Nauru.

The timing of this announcement looks to be convenient for Ardern’s visit to the United Nations in New York soon.

Golriz Ghahraman’s refugee past

New MP Golriz Ghahraman is described on the Green website:

Middle Eastern feminism, Green activism and work in international justice have instilled a deep commitment to defending democracy for the most vulnerable.

Golriz is an Iranian-Kiwi refugee, lucky to escape war and persecution as a child.

At 35 she is also relatively young for an MP, immigrating here from Iran with her family as a 9 year old in 1990.

Golriz is promoted as “the first MP to have entered New Zealand as a refugee”, and this is covered in a profile at The Wireless.

She has become widely known as the first former refugee to run for New Zealand Parliament and, at only 35 years old, has made a name for herself as an Oxford graduate and human rights lawyer, working on high-profile cases such as this recent family carers case.

Ghahraman and her parents came to New Zealand as asylum seekers, as opposed to quota refugees. Where quota refugees often have their status as refugees determined before they reach their destination, asylum seekers must first travel to their destination and go through a legal process in order to be able to gain refugee status.

“Basically,” Ghahraman says, “the standard for refugee status is that you have to prove that you have a well-founded fear of persecution, based on one of the grounds in the Refugee Convention, [some of which are] nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, or political belief. So it’s actually quite limited and the standard is really high in terms of persecution, like, it can’t just be discrimination or something like that, it has to be that you’re facing torture or death or imprisonment.”

It was the “political belief” ground on which Ghahraman’s family sought refugee status. They had been opposed to the regime in a rather vocal way, which had ended up becoming dangerous for the family. Ghahraman tells a story about her mother, who had studied psychology, applying for jobs but refusing to sit the religious exam, and being vocal about it being an unethical requirement for work.

“All I remember growing up is people talking about how we needed to get out, and how our phones were tapped. The repression was really quite real… My parents were in the revolution trying to overturn the previous regime, and then they ended up with this far more oppressive regime.

So it’s kind of a tragic situation having this entire population or generation of people who are really engaged with democracy issues, and then suddenly the lid is really violently put on their movement.”

There have been and are tragic political and social situations all over the world. Accepting victims of them as refugees is something we should welcome and accept in New Zealand, where we are lucky to enjoy political and religious freedoms that billions of people don’t.

Golriz is a welcome (by me) addition to the diversity in New Zealand parliament. It won’t be easy, like any new MP she has a lot to learn. I hope she learns well and does well.

Hijacker still a risk

Convicted hijacker Asha Abdille has almost finished her sentence but is still seen as a risk – not surprising given that she has threatened to do it again.

Stuff: NZ plane hijacker threatens repeat action

The country’s only convicted plane hijacker has almost completed her prison sentence and is threatening to hijack another aircraft if she gets the chance.

Asha Abdille stabbed both pilots on an Air New Zealand flight from Blenheim to Christchurch in February 2008. One passenger was injured in the incident.

The Somali refugee took knives onto the 19-seater plane, which was forced to make an emergency landing.

Abdille was sentenced to nine years in prison, and her sentence expires on 7 February.

She is currently held in a psychiatric unit in the Wellington region, but refused to attend her final Parole Board hearing in early December. A written summary of the hearing, obtained by RNZ, said Abdille was still classified as high risk and has “said that she will attempt to hijack another plane and has threatened to set herself on fire”.

She is unlikely to get anywhere near an aircraft, especially not any commercial flights, but she is an obvious risk to herself.

Not surprisingly:

It is understood Abdille, who is currently regarded as a special patient, will transfer into the mental health system on a compulsory treatment order (CTO) when her sentence ends next month.

It sounds like that is appropriate. Serious mental health problems are difficult for those suffering from them and can be very hard to deal with safely.

Something that’s very inappropriate is this reaction:

slateronmentalhealthpatient

For someone how claims to know about mental health issues from experience, and someone who has claimed there were attempts to coerce him to suicide, this is disgraceful from Slater, as are the added comments from his Whale Oil off siders. All three of them are very off side on this.

Government announcement on refugee quota

The Government announcement on raising the refuge quota, from Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse.

Govt announces increase to Refugee Quota

Today the Government announced that it will increase the size of the Refugee Quota from 750 to 1000 places per year from 2018,” says Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

“We take our international humanitarian obligations and responsibilities seriously, the increase today demonstrates our commitment to meet the needs of some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“New Zealand has a strong record in the resettlement of refugees. Last year we committed to resettling 500 Syrians over two years on top of our annual quota of 750.  This means for the next two years we are taking 1000 refugees.

“Today’s announcement to increase the annual quota to 1000 from 2018/2019 is an appropriate response. We want to ensure the refugees we take settle well and contribute meaningfully to life in New Zealand, while not putting unreasonable strains on social services.

“We want to be sure people have the appropriate support and services they need to resettle in New Zealand like housing, health, education and translation services,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“The new quota of 1,000 will cost an extra $25 million a year. This is on top of the $75 million a year we currently spend on quota refugees”.

The Government has also agreed to pilot a new community sponsorship category in 2017/2018. The details of the pilot are still being worked through and will be announced next year.

“The offers of support from the New Zealand public in the wake of publicity around the significant displacement of people globally is commendable and the Government is keen to explore how that support might be used to the benefit of refugees,” Mr Woodhouse says.

Immigration New Zealand will also start a process to select a further refugee settlement location to assist the accommodation of the extra intake.

“There are currently six locations where refugees are settled once they have completed their reception at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, with Dunedin the most recent settlement city. I expect another location will be announced sometime in 2017,” says Mr Woodhouse.

The annual refugee quota is just one part of New Zealand’s total refugee and humanitarian programme. There are also 300 places available each year for family reunification and an additional 125-175 asylum seekers have their claims approved each year.

“The new Refugee Quota Programme represents an increased contribution from New Zealand to the resettlement of refugees and highlights our commitment to help address the ongoing global refugee crisis,” Mr Woodhouse says.

Refugee quota tweaked up

The Government has announced a small annual increase in New Zealand’s refugee quote, from 750 to 1,000.

This is on top of the 750 Syrian refugees that have been arriving here and will continue to arrive over a 3 year period.

Woodhouse: Not enough simply to relocate to another country and leave them, there’s significant investment to be made – quality not quantity

Says it’s about quality of settlement of refugees not quantity.

Says he’s satisfied with the background check process currently in place for people coming in to NZ.

Newshub now has details: NZ to increase refugee quota to 1000

New Zealand will increase its refugee quota from 750 a year to 1000. Prime Minister John Key said the change would be from 2018.

The increase will be the first change in 40 years.

It comes after a recommendation from Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse was taken to Cabinet this morning.

That level of increase was backed by three parties – Labour, the Greens and United Future. The Act Party supported a higher quota, but stopped short of doubling it.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has supported an increase in the quota, provided general immigration numbers are brought down significantly.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that it has capacity for 1500 refugees a year if funding for community services is increased.

In the whole scheme of things that will make little difference apart from allowing the country to claim it is doing a bit more of it’s share.

But for 250 people a year it will make a huge difference to their lives.

Garrett on 2% Muslims and immigration

David (Three Strikes) Garrett has a guest post at Kiwiblog that has received a lot of support there but also raised some important issues about his  call for an immediate stop to immigration of Muslims.

Guest Post: David Garrett on A case for immediate cessation of all Muslim immigration

It is really very simple. Every western country which has allowed its Muslim population to exceed 2% has experienced problems generated by that community – or at least arising because of their presence within those societies. The severity of the “problems” appears directly related to the proportion of Muslims in any given western society.

In Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Sweden – and now Australia – there have been civil disturbances which can be directly linked to the presence of a sizeable Muslim community. Those disturbances range from harassment of women dressed “immodestly” at the low end, to mass murder – most recently in France – at the other.

Garrett and others have brought up the 2% (or some number plucked out of I’m not sure where) threshold. I haven’t seen research that backs it up.

When New Zealand has allowed it’s ACT supporter population to speak freely it has threatened intolerance and civil disturbance (actually that’s probably unfair on ACT, I doubt that David Seymour would go anywhere near supporting Garrett’s case.

I have asked the question many times – on this very blog and in my life in the real world – “why would our experience of allowing a Muslim population to develop above 2% be any different from that of all other western countries’?”  The usual response is that there is no evidence of anything bad happening here. The response to that non-argument is of  course “not yet – we  have not yet reached what appears to be  the tipping point of 2%”.

Garrett went all Godwin.

I truly believe we are, in a very real sense, in exactly the position Western Europe was in the  early 1930’s. The prevailing sentiment among both  the political elites  and the population of Britain at large was then, as ours is  now, one of tolerance, or at least wilful blindness to the dangers posed by the rising tide of fascism in Germany. It is important to be reminded that the very word “fascism” had none of the pejorative connotations in 1933 that it most definitely carried ten years later.

If I recall correctly Hitler’s fascist state tried to drive out and exterminate one particular religious group.

Our rulers and the political elites seem blandly unconcerned about Muslim immigration into our country, and deride people like me who warn of the possible consequences of it. I recently received a letter from the colourless Minister of Immigration in response to my letter expressing concern. The Hon. Minister tartly informed me that: “New Zealand does not select [immigrants] on the basis of race or religion.” How utterly un-reassuring. One can almost see the rolling eyes of the 22 year old staffer drafting a reply  to “another crack pot”. The letter did not even warrant the Minister’s signature.

That doesn’t sound like a tart response from the Minister of Immigration.  It sounds like a very basic tenet of a decent democratic country.

Why act now?

Again it is very simple – if we don’t act now, it will be too late if doomsayers like me are right. We are endlessly lectured by the greenies about “tipping points”; that if this or that greenhouse gas emission is not reduced to some unfeasible level  by next week,  unstoppable catastrophic climate change will ensue. Once it has happened, we are told, it will be too late to reverse it.

Well, I know very little about climate change, but simple logic tells me that if I am right about the dire effects of a Muslim population above 2%, it will be impossible to do anything about it. The reason is again simple. We have 50,000 odd Muslims now, a bit more than 1% of our population. There are nowhere near enough of them to cause any significant trouble – yet.

Even if we closed our borders to all of the Muslim faith immediately  – I would go further than that, and exclude all  immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries – we could not stop the ones we already have from multiplying. Given their greater birthrate, it is a certainty that in 10 or perhaps 20 years at the most, we will have a Muslim population well above the crucial tipping point of 2%.

He repeats the ‘tipping point’ of 2%.  “But simple logic tells me that if I am right about the dire effects of a Muslim population above 2%” – is a claim without logic and especially without anything solid to back it up.

What do we lose by stopping Muslim immigration right now? My argument is that we lose absolutely nothing of value. Unlike the vibrant communities which have developed from our South East Asian immigrants – which by and large have had overwhelmingly positive effects on our society – there is nothing from overseas experience which suggests there is anything of value to be gained from having communities of stern bearded men and their subjucated women among us. And that’s assuming none of them are or could be  terrorists.

We lose a significant moral position for a start.

And Garrett’s stereotype of one a half billion Muslims shows the depth of his argument – his post is shallow, dangerous prejudice.

And he seems ignorant of the fact that many Muslim immigrants and students come from South East Asia, and the Pacific (Fiji).

I can do without that, thanks very much. I much prefer that my beautiful daughter is allowed to go to the beach wearing whatever she likes, and that my son isn’t influenced by people who think his wife should also be his servant. Muslim immigrants are a very real threat to our way of life. We should not take one more of them.

Garrett’s daughter can go to the beach wearing almost anything she likes – but on most beaches it would be recommended she wear something, we do have some basic codes of dress in New Zealand.

Intolerant and inciteful people like Garrett are a threat to our way of life, even if they are allowed to breed to beyond 0.2% of the population.

David Farrar makes it clear “For the avoidance of doubt, the post is the opinion of the author, not of Kiwiblog. Kiwiblog accepts guest posts, even when I disagree with the views in them.”

One comment well down the thread, by Inthisdress:

Mr. David Farrar. I address this to you because let’s face it Mr Garrett is hardly the sharpest tool in the box, and I’d hate to feed his delusive Churchill-complex, by coming across like a appeaser.

I’ve seen some pretty low stuff on blogs before today. I must admit I always thought that when it came to puerile bigotry that The Standard pretty much had cornered the market.

But seriously, for a blog started by an immigrant, of such mixed heritage, given the troubled history and outright barbarism meted out to a religious group, simply justified on the basis of their religion, mind, by derelict politicians hell-bent on reclaiming their careers on the backs of human suffering, well this just takes the biscuit.

Are there any other examples of ‘wilderness years’ politicians capitalising on ignorant prejudices to inflame populist opinion for little more than their own gratification. Think! There must be some examples we can draw from.

To allow a misguided individual, who frankly strikes me as someone in love with the sound of his own ego, to pass off a fictitious scenario based on a dinner party conversation, in which he proposes what is essentially hate-speech backed up with some unproven anecdotal statistic, is an unnecessary, destructive act.

Then to throw a natty little disclaimer at the end as if you are doing us a favour and making some kind of stand for ‘free speech’ Cowardly, at best, borderline sociopathic at worst..

There does seem to be some ego involved in Garrett’s post, he congratulates himself several times in comments.

But I disagree with Inthisdress as much as I disagree with Garrett. If Garrett had asked me to post his 2% of intolerance I would have posted it, as he has as much right to write in New Zealand as any Muslim.

I don’t support the religion of Islam in any way, it has never appealed to me. But I support the basic right of Muslims (or Hindus or Jews or anyone) not to be prejudiced against in New Zealand simply because of their religious beliefs.

We should do all we can to exclude potential terrorists from emigrating here, but checks on that should not be based on religion.

The next post responds more to the Garrett 2% doctrine:

A response to Garrett’s 2% doctrine

Should Syrian men stay and fight?

Winsto Peters has done a Winston and suggested we should take women and children Syrian refugees but Syria men should stay in Syria and fight. He didn’t say which of the Asad regime, ISIL or the many factions they should fight for or against.

Claire Trevett asks Is it reasonable to expect Syrian refugees to fight?

Winston Peters clearly used the parliamentary recess for a binge watch ofBraveheart before he returned with his solution to the Syrian conflict this week.

Our very own William Wallace came out with his proposal to bring women and children Syrian refugees to New Zealand but send the men back to “fight for the freedom of their country, like we are”.

The “we” referred to the New Zealand Army soldiers over in Iraq rather than Peters and his merry men in NZ First who were cosily ensconced in their leather chairs in Parliament at the time.

In Braveheart, the “army” Wallace gathered up for the first Scottish War of Independence were humble, ordinary working men effectively armed with sticks and passion. The vast majority of the Syrian refugees are also normal working men – doctors, students, lawyers, plumbers and architects – rather than soldiers.

Sendig their women and children off into a dangerous unknown while men stay behind is also highly questionable.

If someone chose to give it serious thought, Peters’ comments boil down to the modern equivalent of handing a white feather to those male Syrian refugees for failing to stand and fight.

That would come as no surprise to those who recall NZ First defence spokesman Ron Mark recently referring to Iraqi soldiers as cowardly and lacking the will to fight. Fortunately many in the Islamic community treated it with the ridicule it deserved.

Yes, it deserves ridicule.

They called on Peters to provide detail for the cunning military strategy he had worked out. One wanted to know exactly which of the multitude of fighting groups in Syria Peters believed these men should fight with and which of the unfriendly forces they should fight against. Another wondered if Peters also proposed to train and arm the men in question.

I doubt that Peters would care about details like that, he is more likely just after headlines pandering to people who don’t think things through.

Yesterday Peters continued to insist that it was “reasonable” to expect Syrians to stay and fight, especially because a number of Western countries had “skin in the game”, including New Zealand.

However, he had managed to come up with a rather more chivalrous spin on it or perhaps he’d just added Titanic to his movie-watching. Speaking on breakfast television, he insisted women and children should come first. “My concern was in a crisis like this you would take the women and children first because you could take much more of them and you can do it much more quickly.”

So he thinks that families should be split and most refugee families would not be in a position to earn a living here.

Who would want this man in Government? Or this woman:

NZ First MP: NZ has ‘unconscious bias’ to male refugees

NZ First MP Tracey Martin has defended her party’s policy on Syrian refugees, saying the focus should be on bringing widowed women and their children to New Zealand.

Martin said she was trying to get the numbers to prove or disprove her theory, which was based on anecdotal evidence of the numbers coming into New Zealand, and of the people crossing the border.

At least a proportion of the increase in refugee numbers should be focused on families led by single women, Martin said.

Martin added she would like to see that “we aren’t leaving behind widows with children inside those camps because we think they need to have a man to be an appropriate refugee.”

Martin defended NZ First’s policy as being about doing more for refugees, which should involve bringing women and children first, and said Peters had “added on” his comment about Syrian men defending their country.

Asked if the men would get military training under that idea, Martin said, “I don’t really know”.

There seems to be quite a lot of detail about this NZ First policy that Martin doesn’t know.

“The comment was actually about a policy of women and children first.”

Asked if she wanted all 750 extra Syrian refugees to be women and children, Martin said no.

“I would just like to see a percentage of that dedicated to widows and children that have been sitting in camps for some time on the Turkish border – at least five years – I’d like to see those women given an opportunity.”

Martin said her personal preference would for at least 250 of the 750 to be families led by single women.

There was already a category within the quota of “women at risk” but Martin said that was not being as used as much as it could be.

Thinking before seeking attention on a very difficult and complex issue doesn’t seem to be used as much as it could be in NZ First.

The ‘collapse in poverty’ and ‘the Great Migration’

According to a report at The Telegraph a collapse in world wide poverty is feeding a ‘Great Migration’ that is likely to last for decades.

Prepare yourselves: The Great Migration will be with us for decades

It is not war, but money, that drives people abroad. That is not going to change any time soon

War must be a factor in prompting people to migrate. But it’s also true that many of those migrating by sea and by land from Africa and the Middle East into Europe must have money to finance their movements, whether they pay people smugglers or do it on their own.

When the crew of HMS Bulwark first fished immigrants out of the Mediterranean, they were expecting to find the world’s hungry, wretched and destitute. Instead, they found them relatively healthy, well-dressed and carrying mobile phones and credit cards, which they intended to use upon arrival in Italy.

The military learnt then what politicians are only slowly beginning to work out – that this is not simply a refugee crisis. The world’s poor are on the move because they’re not quite so poor as they used to be, and can afford to travel. A great migration has begun, and it could be with us for decades.

A report on the news right now – there has been an influx of 20,000 refugees/migrants onto one Greek island alone, Lesbos. “As soon as people are processed more arrive”.

This Great Migration was not expected because, for years, politicians believed that there would be less of it as poor countries became richer. Give aid, not shelter, ran the argument. “As the benefits of economic growth are spread in Mexico,” Bill Clinton once assured Americans, “there will be less illegal immigration because more Mexicans will be able to support their children by staying home.”

When José Manuel Barroso led the European Commission, he made the same argument: third world development will tackle the “root causes” of the problem. In fact, the reverse is true.

Never has there been less hardship; since Clinton’s day, the share of the population in extreme poverty (surviving on less than $1.25 a day) has halved. Never has there been less violence: the Syrian conflict is an exception in a period of history where war has waned. It might not feel like it, but the world is more prosperous and peaceful than at any time in human history – yet the number of emigrants stands at a record high. But there is no paradox. As more people have the money to move, more are doing so – and at extraordinary personal risk.

So the Great Migration is a side-effect of perhaps the greatest success of our times: the collapse in global poverty. The Washington-based Center for Global Development recently set this out, in a study drawing on more than a thousand national censuses over five decades.

If you misjudge the refugee crisis, you incubate a political crisis: this is the lesson that David Cameron has learnt.

We’ve seen similar here over the past week.

Efforts intended to help can end up causing harm, costing more lives. Since the Italian navy decided to send rescue missions to the Mediterranean, the number of people making the crossing (and perishing) has trebled.

Doubtless Angela Merkel meant well when she invited every Syrian to apply for asylum in Germany. But she will be toasted by the new breed of people traffickers, who will now have far more families to extort and leave stranded in Budapest or pack into boats on the coast of Libya.

Allowing and aiding mass migration encourages more of it. The Syrian migration may be only just cranking up.

So there is a growing dilemma – propsective migrants will have been encouraged by the surge in refugees successfully breaking through borders in Europe.

The Great Migration is a 21st century problem, far bigger than Syria and bigger than the authorities in Brussels seem able to comprehend. To panic now, as Mrs Merkel is doing, will just bring more to panic about. The solutions of the last century – refugee camps, or the notion that you can stem the flow of migrants with foreign aid – need to be abandoned, and a new agenda needs to be forged. Europe, in short, needs to begin a new conversation.

It’s a conversation we should also have in New Zealand. Our geographic isolation makes ikt far easier for us to control how many migrants make it here. But the ‘humanitarian’ and political pressure to take may more migrants has significant implications for New Zealand’s future.

A photograph of a drowned child is heartbreaking, but should not change policy: a botched response can lead to many more dead children. Hundreds of Yemeni children will likely starve this winter, victims of its civil war – we won’t see the pictures, so we’re unlikely to see anyone petitioning Parliament about them. But it’s no less of a tragedy.

Rather than media driven “we must do much more right now” perhaps we should be looking at how ‘the Great Migration’ may impact on us in New Zealand over the next few years and the next few decades.

It could have much more impact here than any climate change.

Syrian refugee announcement expected

A Government annoluncement on what more New Zealand may do for Syrian refugees is expected this afternoon after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Claire Trevett reports at NZ Herald: New hope: Govt to allow more Syrian refugees to come to NZ

The Government will today announce a package allowing hundreds of Syrian refugees to come to New Zealand and agreeing extra financial aid for refugee camps in countries bordering Syria.

It is understood the Cabinet will sign off on a special intake of Syrian refugees on top of the 750 refugees New Zealand takes under its total annual quota.

The final number of Syrians to be offered places in New Zealand under the extraordinary allocation was yet to be finalised last night. But a senior Government source said it was expected to be in the hundreds rather than thousands and could be spread out over up to three years.

Once the details had been worked through with the UN’s refugee agency, the first could arrive within months.

Whatever decision is made will have taken less than a week,quitev rapid by Government standards. While media have short news cycles and alomg with opposition MPs demand instant action serious issues require serious consideration.

However, there would be no immediate steps to increase the overall refugee quota permanently – such a decision would come after next year’s review.

That makes sense. If a one off increase in refugees is going to happen anyway that takes the pressure off a decision on the annual number of refugees we take.

New Zealand takes about 750 refugees from the UN’s refugee agency. There have been special intakes in the past but most have been within annual quotas, including the Tampa refugees from Afghanistan in 2001 and provision for 100 places for Syrians last year.

Since the conflict in Syria began in 2011, New Zealand has taken about 120 Syrians who arrived as part of the quota, under family reunification policies or as asylum seekers.

As more countries in Europe began to join Austria and Germany in taking refugees, Mr Key has been under growing pressure to do the same.

There is a particular problem with Syrian refugees that is deserving of some Government action but consideration also has to be given to the world’s overall refugee situation. While there are four or five million Syrian refugees, mostly in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey but now spilling out more into Europe, there’s reported to be ten times this number of refugees wanting to be resettled.

UPDATE: John Key has just spoken about this on Breakfast.

Over and above the 750 there will be a special emergency allocation of additional Syrian refugees. It will be ‘hundreds’. We have to be able to cope with the increased number.

And the Government will put more money into Syrian refugee agencies in the Middle East. Key points out that most refugees want to return to their homes in Syria so need to be supported in refugee camps until that is possible.