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New Zealand offers residency to families of mosque victims

The special visa category “recognises the impact of the tragedy on the lives of those most affected and gives people currently on temporary and resident visas some certainty” about their status.

FILE: A police officer secures the area in front of the Masjid al Noor mosque after a shooting incident in Christchurch on 15 March 2019. Picture: AFP.

WELLINGTON - New Zealand opened a two-year window Wednesday for people directly affected by the Christchurch terror attacks to apply to stay permanently in the country.

The special visa category “recognises the impact of the tragedy on the lives of those most affected and gives people currently on temporary and resident visas some certainty” about their status, Immigration New Zealand said in a statement.

People living in New Zealand, who were present at one of the mosques, and their immediate family based in New Zealand qualify for the visa.

The definition of “immediate family” has been expanded to include a wide circle of family members including partner’s family and the grandparents of children under 25.

Mustafa Farouk, the president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, said it was a generous gesture.

“We are very happy,” he said, adding he expected everyone eligible would apply.

“Some of these people have not only lost their loved ones, but they have also lost their main provider.”

A self-styled white supremacist opened fire on Muslims at prayer in two Christchurch mosques on 15 March.

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