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International Student Rescue Mission (MRSI) founder and president Zhian Eli said there were five former refugee families living in motels as permanent housing had not yet been found for them.
Families were being moved “from Dunedin to Mosgiel motels because motels here are full”.
There were 4000 children living in emergency accommodation in New Zealand, Mrs Eli said.
“Iraq and Syria have [an] excuse for displaced children because they are in a war. What’s New Zealand’s reason?”
Her organisation was starting a project to build new housing and proposed to build two houses per refugee family, with the second house going to a family in need from Dunedin.
She was seeking 25% of the funding for the project from each of the city council, Housing New Zealand, and Work and Income.
The remaining 25% would be raised by the MRSI from national and international donors.
She had advice from builders that 10 identical houses could be built within three months.
Mrs Eli came from Iraqi Kurdistan and spent seven years in a Syrian refugee camp from her teenage years.
She came to New Zealand in 1997 and has lived in Dunedin since 2010.
- By Andrew Marshall