New Zealand Proposes Special Visa Program for Palestinian Citizens

New Zealand, Palestinian Territory Occupied
#refugee #asylum

New Zealand is proposing a special immigration program geared toward Palestinian people, similar to the one for Ukrainians. This action comes as Immigration Minister Erica Stanford seeks estimates on how many Palestinians would apply for family reunification in New Zealand under such a plan. Cabinet has, however, decided to keep the current visa settings in place for the time being.

Humanitarian Appeal Amidst Gaza Crisis

Campaigners have long campaigned for a humanitarian visa scheme, especially since the confrontation between Hamas and Israel in October, which resulted in retaliatory attacks in Gaza. This caused widespread casualties, evacuations, and grave humanitarian conditions, prompting calls for immediate action.

Despite this, Palestinians can now only apply for tourist visas to visit family members in New Zealand, emphasizing the importance of adopting a more flexible visa type.

Labour Party's Push for Special Gaza Visa

The Labour Party, echoing the feelings of various human rights organizations, has called on the government to implement a Special Gaza Visa. This visa would allow Gazans to reunite with their relatives in New Zealand, similar to the Special Ukraine Visa introduced in 2022 for Ukrainian citizens.

The Labour Party underlines the importance of diplomatic measures to guarantee that persons in Gaza holding New Zealand visas can depart safely, emphasizing the humanitarian significance of such a visa scheme.

Minas Al-Ansari, an Auckland resident, shows the personal stakes involved. In the middle of Gaza's grave situation, she is desperately trying to move her aunt, uncle, and their five children to New Zealand for safety.

The hefty cost of visas, combined with the fees of leaving Gaza and flights, makes the idea difficult. Her fundraising efforts for her relatives' basic needs and home rebuilding highlight the importance of a more accessible visa pathway.

Visa Statistics and Challenges

According to recent immigration numbers, 16 Palestinians and 90 Israelis have come to New Zealand since October 2023. Although Palestinians apply for visas at a lower rate than Israelis, the number of visa applications denied is higher.

This disparity illustrates the difficulties Palestinians face in obtaining visas and emphasizes the need for a more equitable visa process.

The limited visa-free travel choices for Palestinians, with only 14 countries permitting visa-free entrance, exacerbates the challenges they face.

This is exacerbated by the poor humanitarian situation in Gaza, where families like Al-Ansari live in perilous conditions and rely on fundraising efforts to survive. The lack of a specialized visa category exacerbates their problems and emphasizes the importance of establishing a Special Gaza Visa program.


How many Palestinians and Israelis have visited New Zealand since October 2023?

Since October 2023, 16 Palestinians and 90 Israelis have landed in New Zealand. The amount of visa applications denied shows a higher proportion of Palestinians than Israelis.

What is the status of the Special Gaza Visa proposal?

As of present, the New Zealand Cabinet has chosen to preserve the current visa rules. However, Immigration Minister Erica Stanford continues to assess the situation and lobby for adjustments in response to the changing humanitarian needs in Gaza.


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