No Visa For Kiwi Families Stuck in Palestine

Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer
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Minister of Immigration, Erica Stanford, expressed concerns about issuing emergency visas to family members stuck in Palestine. Departing Palestine remains a difficult and demanding process for all involved. Contact Immigration Lawyer NZ for any questions.

So, you think you’ve got it tough? Let’s take a look this NZ immigration news involving a harrowing journey Kiwis are taking to get their families out of Palestine. You see, while some of us are grumbling about traffic and supermarket queues, Mohammed’s just shelled out a whopping $70,000 to get his family across the southern border into Egypt. That’s $70,000 for a chance, not a guarantee, mind you, to maybe one day find a safe haven in New Zealand.

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. It’s a slog to escape Gaza. Mohammed and his ten family members, through sheer perseverance and a small fortune, made it to Egypt. The cost? About US$5000 for an adult and US$2500 for a child, paid to an Egyptian company called Hala Consulting and Tourism. If you don’t have the backing of a foreign state department, Hala’s your only ticket. Your names go on a list, and then it’s a waiting game – if your name gets called, you’re on a bus out. But not everyone’s that lucky; the wait can be excruciatingly long, and the escape route is perilous.

Minister of Immigration Erica Stanford claimed issuing an emergency visa was “false hope” since there’s no sure way out of Palestine. But for the estimated 400 Palestinians with Kiwi ties, any sliver of hope is better than nothing. For these families, the stakes couldn’t be higher. With Rafah, supposedly a safe haven, now under threat of invasion by Israel, the situation grows more desperate by the day.

What’s it like waiting at Rafah? It’s hell on earth. Mohammed talks of relentless bombings, nights spent in tents, and sinister tricks like the sound of crying babies luring people out into the open – only to be met with deadly drones. Imagine the trauma of hearing a baby cry and having to ignore it for fear of being shot.

Even if you make it out, the ordeal doesn’t end at the border. The journey to Egypt, which should take six hours, often drags into a gruelling 24-hour trek. And don’t get too comfortable – Hala’s list is scrutinised by both Egyptian and Israeli authorities. Any hint of a problem, and you’re turned back.

But here’s the kicker – the lack of passports wouldn’t stop entry to New Zealand. Once in Egypt, Palestinians can renew their passports at their embassy. So why can’t we offer them a humanitarian visa to expedite their escape? Instead of languishing in Egypt’s bureaucratic limbo, they could find immediate refuge.

Stanford’s argument that a special humanitarian visa isn’t a “solution to the current crisis” misses the mark. It might not bring peace to the Middle East, but it would give these families a lifeline, a new start.

So, as we sit comfortably, let’s remember Mohammed and the countless others who endure unimaginable hardship for a glimmer of hope. Maybe it’s time for the Government to act with a bit more humanity and a lot more urgency.

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author headshot Michael Yoon
Last modified on 5 June 2024 by
Michael Yoon
Principal Immigration Lawyer
Michael has been working as a lawyer in New Zealand since 2006. Over the years, he has successfully helped thousands of clients to get their desired outcome. Clients find Michael knowledgeable, approachable and professional — a trusted expert.
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