18 August 2008

NZ, Aus urged to tailor immigration program for climate change refugees

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Pressure has been put on Australia and New Zealand to update their immigration programs to cater for climate change refugees, reports ABC News.

An increasing number of Pacific Island nations are becoming displaced as a result of climate changes, and Australia and New Zealand are being charged with the humanitarian responsibility of providing residency visas.

Kevin Rudd, Australian Prime Minister, and Helen Clark, New Zealand Prime Minister, are meeting in New Zealand today to discuss the immigration issue before heading to a forum in Niue.  The Pacific Islands Leadership Forum will also involve discussions about the proposed guest worker scheme which will see thousands of Pacific Islanders working in Australia in the horticultural regions.

The Prime Ministers both received a letter of petition from over 100 NGOs, reports the news provider, which implores the governments to make changes to the immigration quota for Pacific Islanders.  It also argues that the governments need to take action against increasing carbon emissions, increase resources for settlement and make changes to permanent migration policy.

“Ultimately there needs to be recognition in our immigration program that there are people already in the Pacific being displaced because of climate change, people having to leave small atolls and islands because of sea level rises," said Damien Lawson from Friends of the Earth Australia.

"Australia and New Zealand need to be putting resources and planning into how the displacement can be coped with and how that resettlement can take place," he added.  "But alongside of that, there needs to be more permanent migration put in place from the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand to help build a resource base."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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