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NZ opens door to hundreds of refugees

September 6, 2015 6:05 pm

Prime Minister John Key will an announce an emergency package later today that will allow hundreds of Syrian refugees to come to New Zealand.

Key said Cabinet will be making a decision later today, which would spread the intake over a period of three years.

Millions of people are fleeing war zones in the Middle East and Africa with many seeking shelter in the European Union, and, over the past week, the calls for New Zealand to take some of those refugees have grown louder.

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Key told Morning Report the new intake would be over and above the country’s current annual quota of 750, as part of a special emergency package.

While he would not give exact numbers, he said it would be "in the hundreds.

The new emergency intake would apply specifically to Syrians, and would be similar to what the country did for refugees from Kosovo in 1999.

Key said taking in that many new people would put a strain on the system.

“But the advice seems to be that we might be able to get some people relatively quickly. It still takes some time, but relatively quickly”.

He said the review of the 750 quota would still go ahead in the middle of next year and would not be brought forward.

Key said he stood by the view that the current quota had served New Zealand well for 28 years.

Labour leader Andrew Little will attempt to introduce an Emergency Humanitarian Response Bill tomorrow that would lift the quota by an extra 750 refugees. The Green Party will also try to fast track the bill, but it is unlikely to receive any support from National.

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