Christchurch: Post-Earthquake Report

May 25th, 2011

The events of February 22, 2011 had a profound effect on immigrants within the city of Christchurch reports Justin Treagus, Executive Director of OMEGA in Auckland:

“It has been encouraging to see the swift action taken by numerous players to support the migrant community. These include:

  • Language support – Free information, advice support and advocacy on issues such as housing, employment, debt, benefits, immigration, education, health, relationships, and communities.  [City authorities] can talk to you about the issues you are facing as a result of the Christchurch earthquake or refer you to appropriate response agencies.
  • Ethnic community support – Evacuation support which includes other cities response to supporting.  The Danish community network is currently providing accommodation support for families and students affected due to the quake in Christchurch. The Japan Society of Auckland is offering accommodation support, interpreting and translation services as well as transportation to all Japanese people who are coming up to Auckland from Christchurch. They are also visiting victims who have been transferred to Auckland hospital to provide emotional support. The Buddhist Compassion Relief – Tzu Chi Foundation is offering $500 worth of Cash Cards, blankets, medicine Kit Bags, instant Noodle and rice, biscuits and other items. The Korean Society of Auckland is providing accommodation support, legal information, liaison with consulate general, and overall support to international students who have come up from Christchurch. The Chinese Mental Health Consultation Services Trust is proving psychological care for survivors, rescuers, and members of public who have been affected by the quake. Hindu Niwas based in Mangere has opened its 63-bed facility for affected families moving out of Christchurch. They are providing vegetarian meals to residents and will be able to arrange culturally/ linguistically appropriate support for victims of the earthquake during their stay.
  • Contingency plans for migrants whose journey to Permanent Residence was dependent on jobs that are no longer due to the quake are busy being explored.

Impact on Refugee Intake

One unfortunate result of the Christchurch earthquake has been the need to postpone the next UNHCR quota intake of 150 refugees. Christchurch was no longer a resettlement region following the September 2010 earthquake. This latest disaster has meant that all possible Housing New Zealand houses need to be available first for people from Christchurch with no homes. A decision on when the next intake will now take place will be made in due course, but it is unlikely to be before May, and the postponement will realistically mean New Zealand will take fewer refugees over the next 12 months. It is important that support agencies, already busy responding to the earthquake, are provided with some breathing space prior to full refugee intakes being re-established.”

From a report dated April 19, 2011

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