United Nations Quota Programme
New Zealand resettles an average of 750 quota refugees per annum referred by the UNHCR, and depending on the number of successful applications for asylum, convention refugee numbers will vary from year to year. Between 1980 and 2002, 16,556 refugees and displaced persons were resettled under the Refugee Quota Programme.
Of the 135 countries that have signed the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, nine governments currently host the bulk of the refugees who are annually resettled in new countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the USA.
In addition countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Chile, Iceland, Ireland, Japan and the United Kingdom have more recently begun to implement resettlement programmes in co-operation with UNHCR. Some other countries accept refugees for resettlement on an ad hoc basis.
The resettlement of refugees is used only as a last resort when they cannot return safely to their country of origin (voluntary repatriation), or when they cannot be integrated into the country in which they first sought refuge (local integration).
Refugee Resettlement in New Zealand
New Zealand Red Cross Refugee Services is New Zealand's resettlement agency and is contracted by the government to assist quota refugees in making new lives in this country.
The geographic mix of source countries for New Zealand's refugee intake has shifted over the past 25 years in response to changing global circumstances and humanitarian needs. For more detailed information on quota refugees who have come to New Zealand, you can visit the Immigration New Zealand website.
Having arrived in New Zealand, the geographic spread of refugees tends to follow the national pattern of population concentrations, with the major urban regions being the main areas of refugee resettlement. A high proportion are located in Auckland and the Greater Wellington area. Decisions about where refugees are resettled are made with consideration for whether family or friends are already living in an area and what services and support are available in each city for people from a particular community.
Different categories of refugees
United Nations quota refugees are people who have been identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as refugees overseas.
Quota refugees are selected for resettlement in New Zealand under the annual Refugee Quota Programme which comprises three main sub-categories: protection cases; women-at-risk; and medical/disabled. Underlying these categories, there is also a focus on family links.
Convention refugees are former asylum seekers whose refugee status has been recognised in New Zealand by domestic authorities. Upon arrival in New Zealand, they claimed asylum and after their cases were reviewed, they were determined to be genuine refugees.
For statistics on asylum seekers, please visit the Immigration New Zealand website by clicking here.
Refugee Family Support Category
The objective of the Refugee Family Support Category is to help refugees living in New Zealand to settle by allowing them to sponsor family members for residence. New Zealand welcomes 300 sponsored people (including their partners and dependent children) to settle in New Zealand each year under the Refugee Family Support Category. More information can be found on the Immigration New Zealand website.