Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

He returned to Algeria to be with family in recent years as the political situation appeared to be settling. He was planning to return to New Zealand later this year. It is more than 20 years since he was granted refugee status and it is reasonable to expect people to want to visit home if they believe it is now safe to do so.
Ahmed Zaoui is a New Zealand citizen and so entitled to the same protection and assistance from the NZ Government as any other citizens. People are not more or less deserving of help depending on how they became citizens.
Like many refugees, Ahmed Zaoui could not get a passport. New Zealand is a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention which specifically acknowledges that refugees may be forced to use false travel documents, and should not be prosecuted. Ahmed Zaoui destroyed his passport in-flight, which is common practice for refugees, and in Auckland Airport, before customs, he approached a police officer and indicated he wished to seek asylum. He was then interviewed by the Immigration Service and he told them his name, his background, and applied for refugee status.
Refugees arriving in New Zealand fall into two groups: resettlement refugees and ‘spontaneous’ refugees. Resettlement refugees are usually granted a residency visa before they arrive in New Zealand. They are selected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as “persons of concern” New Zealand did not even fill it's quota last year. ‘Spontaneous’ refugees are refugees that claim refugee status at an airport (or seaport) when they arrive in New Zealand. They are often people who have reason to believe they are in immediate danger. When they arrive they make an application for refugee status which is considered by the Refugee Status Branch. There is a de novo appeal right to the Refugee Status Appeal Authority (RSAA).
Ahmed Zaoui is a religious and cultural moderate. This is clearly visible in his life, his actions, his words and the testimony of many people who have known him. He has worked for collective and individual liberties, regardless of race, sex or religion. Mr Zaoui also believes in the personal and religious freedoms of all women. He has presided over the wedding of a Christian friend and a Muslim and Jewish couple and worked with brothers from the Vatican in attempt to find a peaceful solution to Algeria’s problems. Ahmed Zaoui has also earned the respect and support of both Muslim and Christian communities within New Zealand. Regardless of all this, in New Zealand we all enjoy freedom of religious expression - including refugees (so long as we remain within the law).