New Zealand refuses climate change refugees


Ioane Teitiota has been denied refugee status in NZ. He and his family will be deported. Neither NZ law nor the UN recognise climate change as a criterion for refugee status. People need to recognise the problem and help the family.

NZ is set to deport Ioane Teitiota back to Kiribati. Ioane was arrested on Tuesday morning (15 Sept 2015) on his way to work. He will be held in custody until his deportation.

The Supreme Court in July this year refused to recognise Ioane and his wife as climate refugees.

Michael Kidd, Ioane's lawyer, is filing an application to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for help in the family's bid to be deemed climate change refugees. However, there is little chance of this application helping, Ioane will most likely have been deported long before any outcome to the application is known. Under 1A(2) of the refugee convention, climate change is not a criterion for refugee status.

Ioane came to New Zealand in 2007; he and his wife now have three children born in this country. The whole family will be sent to Kiribati – a country badly affected by climate change.

Kidd has pointed out that Kiribati is now a hostile environment, “There's a lack of fresh water, there's rising sea levels, a lack of ability to grow crops, danger from storms that are coming through, and frequent flooding."
It is a "serious life-threatening problem", especially for children, said the lawyer.

Any response from the UN will highly likely be too late; the department of immigration plan to deport Ioane next week.

The Minister of Immigration, Michael Woodhouse, has stated that he would not intervene. “He (Ioane) has exhausted all of his legal remedies as far as I am aware and is liable for deportation and that is what will go ahead in the near future.”

Woodhouse doesn't believe NZ should assist people claiming refugee status due to climate change. He said that “the Government's focus was on climate mitigation, not building an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning on National Radio there had been a six minute long report on NZers detained in detention centres in Australia whilst their deportation to NZ was decided. The reporter spoke about deportation tearing families apart.

The NZ journalist interviewing John Key said there was “concern families could be ripped apart”.
“Yeah,” answered John Key.

Well, yeah – this is another family set to be torn apart and deported.

Let Ioane and his family stay. We need to help people affected by climate change now.

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