NZ response must reflect scale of humanitarian crisis

The Government’s response to the refugee crisis must reflect the scale of the massive humanitarian disaster unfolding in Europe, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery this morning told The Nation that the New Zealand Government has agreed to take 100 refugees from the main European countries that are inundated with refugees.

"We cannot do the least possible. New Zealand’s response must be more than a token gesture.

"New Zealanders want to help these desperate people and it is good news that John Key is now considering options the Government can take.

"But the response must be proportionate to what New Zealand can offer these families who are fleeing for their lives with little more than the clothes on their backs.

"On Tuesday Labour will introduce an Emergency Humanitarian Response Bill to Parliament to bring an additional 750 refugees into New Zealand this year. This provides the Government with an option to do something immediately and we implore National to pick up our legislation.

"New Zealand has a proud history of opening our doors to refugees in the past. We took in Jewish families after World War 2, we took in refugees from Poland, Cambodia and Vietnam, and we were acknowledged around the world when we took in the Tampa boys.

"We can – and we must – help these people," Andrew Little says.