|Not a member? Sign up now!|
A major exercise to test New Zealand’s preparations for a mass arrival of asylum seekers by boat is starting tomorrow, the Immigration Minister Nathan Guy has announced.
“The aim is to make sure New Zealand is fully prepared to respond to a mass arrival by sea of potentially illegal immigrants. We know that New Zealand has been a target in the past for people smugglers, and we need to be prepared for future attempts.
“It will start from first notification that a vessel is on the way, through to processing and accommodating these asylum seekers while their claims are determined.”
Exercise Barrier 2012 will take place over eight weeks, running until late June 2012.
The exercise will include several planning exercises and a simulated mass arrival at Devonport Naval Base in June.
The New Zealand Customs Service and Immigration New Zealand are the lead agencies for the exercise, given their responsibilities for New Zealand’s border security and immigration laws.
Other agencies involved include Defence, Police, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Education, Health, MAF, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Corrections and Social Development.
“A freighter with 500 asylum seekers was intercepted off the coast of Canada two years ago, so if they can get to Canada they can certainly get to New Zealand and we need to be prepared,” says Mr Guy.
“Agencies continually monitor the risk of a mass arrival and ensure plans to respond to such a threat are up to date. This exercise will help agencies test their planning at a practical level.
“Together with the new legislation we are introducing, this sends a strong message that queue jumpers and people smugglers won’t be tolerated,” says Mr Guy.