Press Release New Lynn Terror Attack
Sun Sept. 5th 2021
"The overwhelming majority of refugees in this country are law-abiding, community-oriented, hard-working, and trustworthy people. Refugees are not defined by the act of this one person and our collective response to them should be one of solidarity and support. We must remember this and not spread any hate, xenophobia or racism in our reactions."
5 September 2021
Asylum Seekers Support Trust extends it sympathies to the victims of the terrorist attack
The Asylum Seekers Support Trust (ASST) extends its sympathies to the seven victims, their families and all the affected people of the terrorist attack in New Lynn. Our prayers and thoughts are with all the victims, especially those still fighting for their lives in hospital.
No one should have to suffer an attack while shopping to get food for themselves and their families. This act of hatred, committed by a single individual who had been radicalised online, has no place anywhere.
This action was carried out by one person with serious mental health issues. He does not represent any community or group in New Zealand. As with the Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019 – the offender did not represent in any way the community he lived in.
Tim Maurice, General Manager at ASST, says the attack has again brought home the damage that can be caused by a single, radicalised individual. While this person’s actions does not represent the refugee community in New Zealand, he suggests the government can play a much greater role to support traumatised people who are asserting basic human rights by claiming asylum in this country.
Annually around 500 people seek asylum in New Zealand. Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right under international and NZ law. Once a person has claimed asylum it can take months, and in some cases years, for a decision to be made if they will be accepted as a convention refugee.
“While they wait, the person seeking asylum faces the difficult tasks of finding housing during a housing crisis, employment, and settling into a new country, with very little support.”
Kat Eghdmian, ACampaign Manager says "The overwhelming majority of refugees in this country are law-abiding, community-oriented, hard-working, and trustworthy people. Refugees are not defined by the act of this one person and our collective response to them should be one of solidarity and support. We must remember this and not spread any hate, xenophobia or racism in our reactions."
Just as they are for all Kiwis, finding shelter, a job and community ties, are vital to meaningful resettlement which allows people who have rightfully claimed asylum, to engage with and positively contribute to life in New Zealand.
“With over 200 asylum claimants accepted a year, and the biggest spend we have seen being $110,000 to help resettle traumatised refugees in 2020, we wonder if, as country, we can do more to welcome and support our newest protected people?”
“This tragedy is a wake-up call. We call on the government to complete an independent review of how we welcome and support refugees and people who seek asylum once they are in New Zealand.”
Claiming asylum in New Zealand is a robust process, with only 31% of claims being accepted by the Refugee Status Branch.
“The few that do gain refugee status after claiming asylum is because they face a very real threat to their safety if they return to their country of origin,” says Maurice.
For further comment:
General Manager, Asylum Seekers Support Trust
P 09 378 7434
M 0204 456 884
Dr Kat Eghdamian
M 021 292 4715
About ASST - www.asst.org.nz
ASST began in 1989 as the Auckland Refugee Council Incorporated (ARCI) as a result of seeing the plight of people who sought asylum, families who had escaped life-threatening danger and were desperate for a safe haven. They received no help or support while they waited to be granted refugee status. They had nowhere to go and no-one to speak for them. We saw this neglect, and through advocacy and support, offered them a chance for something better. In 2015, we adopted the trading name of Asylum Seeker Support Trust (ASST) as a division of the ARCI to reflect our unique position as the only organisation in New Zealand specifically caring for asylum seekers and the convention refugees they become in a successful process. But we still do the same job we've done for more than 30 years – advocating for and supporting people who seek asylum.
Facts about asylum seekers: Seeking asylum is a fundamental human right under international and NZ Law. An asylum seeker is someone seeking protection whose claim for refugee status has not yet been assessed. In the 2021 financial year, only 494 people sought asylum in New Zealand. Asylum seekers are not entitled to the same support as someone who has been granted refugee status in New Zealand.