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Palmerston North woman extends welcome to new refugees

13 September 2022

When Lorna Johnson was told the refugee sponsorship programme was being extended, she knew she wanted to get involved.


She posted on her Facebook page and more than a dozen people responded. Now, a group of seven of them are getting ready to welcome their first refugee family in Palmerston North.


Twenty-one groups and businesses will host refugees under the government's new community sponsorship scheme.


The extended pilot, run by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment through HOST International Aotearoa, will welcome 150 refugees over three years.


Community sponsors can nominate refugees they want to bring in, or are matched with a refugee family by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) before they come to New Zealand.


The Palmerston North group do not yet know who their family are or where they are from - UNHCR will choose and Immigration New Zealand will check their eligibility first.


"We decided that we wanted to go through the matched pathway and the reason for that is that is it means that we're not put in a difficult situation having to choose one family over another. UNHCR will recommend a family to us, and that will be the family that we'll sponsor.


You have to put together a whole settlement plan, looking at every aspect of how you'll support the family when they arrived. Everything from financial to enrolling children in school, to health care, to supporting them with employment. Any aspect of resettlement you can think of - we've already had to research what's available locally and look at how we would support the family."


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