Many refugees in New Zealand are alone or separated from family members who remain in unsafe situations overseas. They are desperate about the safety and survival of those relatives left behind and are unable to settle well until they are reunited.

The process of family reunification for refuges is costly and lengthy. Once visas have been issued to the successful few, it is heartbreaking when the last hurdle of securing money for the airfares proves insurmountable. Visas will expire if airfares cannot be purchased.

Trust funds will be awarded to refugee applicants – as funds permit – whose immediate family members have been assessed and approved by New Zealand immigration service as having a valid case for reunification.

Auckland Refugee Family Trust (ARFT) has been assisting refugee background families reunite for five years now. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far. We’ve helped 35 families get back together.

We’ve noticed a dip in applications this year. We think it’s because Immigration NZ are being more stringent in their requirement for applicants to provide “a credible accommodation plan”. With the tight housing situation in Auckland, this is a tall order.

Without ARCC’s forethought, in urging us to establish ARFT, it’s highly likely that none of these families would be together or if they were, they would be burdened with debt.