WELLINGTON, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- The announcement that Christchurch can once again be a settlement location for refugees represents an important step for New Zealand's ambitions to increase the refugee quota and is a milestone for the city's post-earthquake recovery, New Zealand's Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said on Saturday.
"It's great news for refugees, New Zealand and Christchurch itself to be re-established as a refugee settlement location. It shows the city is once again able to welcome some of the world's vulnerable people and let them be part of a fantastic place to live," Lees-Galloway said in a statement.
There is an extraordinary number of people around the world who need refuge and New Zealand is determined to play its part, the minster said, adding this will help New Zealand to lift its refugee quota to 1,500 per year in this term of the government.
Except for a limited number of family-linked cases, the settlement of quota refugees in Christchurch was suspended following the September 2010 earthquake, due to the impact on services such as health and housing.
"After a comprehensive review the government is satisfied the rebuild has reached a point where the infrastructure can now enable refugees to be settled in the city once again," Lees-Galloway said.
The plan is for around 60 quota refugees to be settled in Christchurch in the 2018-2019 financial year. The first group of around 20 Afghan and Eritrean quota refugees is expected to be settled in Christchurch in March 2019, he said.
Prior to the first group being settled, service providers, City Council and local communities will have the opportunity to participate in training to further develop their capacity to support refugee settlement, the minister said, adding there are currently seven settlement locations in New Zealand where quota refugees are settled.