Evaluating the moral obligation to take in refugees : 165011


Discuss about the Evaluating the moral obligation to take in refugees.


Refugees are people who are forced to flee their country, through no fault of themselves because of war violence and persecution. They have a fear of persecution due to reasons based on religion, nationality, race, political opinion or membership to certain social groups (Ostrand 2015). Syrian refugees are permanent residents and citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic who have been forced to escape from their country since the Syrian Civil War started in 2011.

Thousands of such Syrian refugees have found peace and solace in a world away in New Zealand after being forced to abandon their country that has been torn apart by war. The entire world is uses facts based on moral obligation in relation refugee intake, ever since the body of the Syrian child Aylan washed up on beach in Turkey (Berti 2015). The theories of moral obligation were first demonstrated during the Second World War, when people lost their citizenship and it was not possible to protect their human rights.  Therefore, developed countries all over the world realised the need to take actions to help future refugees.  The moral consensus states that developed countries have a responsibility to assist people who flee their states due to persecution (Zetter and Ruaudel 2014).

This led to the development of the United Nations Convention Relating to The Status of Refugees, in 1951 (Unhcr.org 2017). Refugee protection was also monitored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The normative obligations generally exist for a developed country in relation to intake of refugees. These obligations associate to the actions that a state should take towards refugees. This principle of non-refoulement is an international law that emphasizes on the fact that a particular well developed country cannot deport such asylum seekers, who have a well founded fear of persecution, to their country where they might likely be in danger (Betts 2015).  Thus, refugees who arrived in a country to seek asylum should be given hearing, before being deported.

Therefore, the moral obligation states that refugees should be allowed to stay and should be given membership in the society. This obligation accounts for the fact that several countries did not deport refuge seekers in the past few years. However no legal obligations exist on funding aids (Brannan et al. 2016). Any kind of financial contribution is considered as an act of generosity. However, it can be said that a steady decrease has been observed in the number of refugees taken from Africa and Middle East regions by New Zealand, since 2009 (Heisbourg 2015). Although, the customary annual quota for refugees is 750 according to the Refugee Quota Program by the New Zealand government, it does little help to solve the problem (Immigration.govt.nz 2017).

Although, all refugees of the world cannot be taken in by New Zealand, increasing the quota by will help in saving more number of vulnerable people. Thus, keeping in mind the sense of self respect, moral obligation and the persistent refugee crisis in Syria, there is a need to increase the quota to 1000.  This would probably demonstrate an adequate display of adherence to the moral obligations, while not exhausting the resources of the state.




Berti, B., 2015. The Syrian refugee crisis: Regional and human security implications. Strategic Assessment17(4), pp.41-53.

Betts, A., 2015. The Normative Terrain of the Global Refugee Regime. Ethics & International Affairs29(4), pp.363-375.

Brannan S, Campbell R, Davies M, English V, Mussell R, Sheather JC., 2016. The Mediterranean refugee crisis: ethics, international law and migrant health. Journal of Medical Ethics, 42(4), pp.269-270.

Heisbourg, F., 2015. The strategic implications of the Syrian refugee crisis. Survival57(6), pp.7-20.

Immigration.govt.nz (2017). New Zealand Refugee Quota Programme | Immigration New Zealand. [online] Immigration.govt.nz. Available at: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/what-we-do/our-strategies-and-projects/supporting-refugees-and-asylum-seekers/refugee-and-protection-unit/new-zealand-refugee-quota-programme [Accessed 11 Dec. 2017].

Ostrand, N., 2015. The Syrian refugee crisis: A comparison of responses by Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. J. on Migration & Hum. Sec.3, p.255.

Unhcr.org (2017). The 1951 Refugee Convention. [online] UNHCR. Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/1951-refugee-convention.html [Accessed 11 Dec. 2017].

Zetter, R. and Ruaudel, H., 2014. Development and protection challenges of the Syrian refugee crisis. Forced Migration Review, (47), p.6.

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