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scammed migrants in auckland will soon be homeless

A group of migrants scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars for the promise of work in New Zealand will have nowhere to live in three days.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) officials are investigating after 144 Indian and Bangladeshi migrants were found living in crammed and unsanitary conditions in 10 houses across Auckland.

They came here under the Accredited Employer Work Visa programme, with a dream of supporting their families and finding work, often spending their life savings to do.

But when they arrived, the agents they had paid were nowhere to be seen, nor were the jobs.

One group found themselves crammed into a motel room in Avondale, inner-west Auckland - with no job, no money and still living out of their suitcases.

The 13 men were sharing two small rooms, sleeping on bunk beds.

Bangladeshi Skill Migrants Association spokesperson Ataur Rahman Fakir was trying to help them.

He said the men had been cheated.

"After they arrive, they've got no job, and the people who bring them here, the broker, they cheat them, they [defraud] them, and they are now jobless."

Ataur said the men needed to find somewhere new to live by 11 September, and they did not know what to do.

"They don't know where the next meal will come from, so they're now looking for a job [...] we need to get the open work visa from [INZ] then they can survive [by] themselves."

One of the men, Monwar, described the emotional toll he had endured since arriving in New Zealand last month.

"We are broken hearted, because we know that New Zealand is a very peaceful country, everyone is coming to [make it their] home," he said.

"There's hope - I see the dream and make it true."

Monwar said they were still desperately trying to support their families back home.

"We need at least one-year open work visa, and we can find some job."

Migrants from Bangladesh rely on charities for food.

Migrants from Bangladesh rely on charities for food. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

On the other side of town, the Takanini Gurudwara - a Sikh temple - was rallying to support exploited migrants.

Supreme Sikh Society spokesperson Daljeet Singh was asking other temples to do the same.

"We requested everybody to open their doors for them, to feed them," he said.

"They're all coming to the Gurudwara to have food at least a couple times a day."

To the south in Papakura, another house of migrants has been issued a building notice for dangerous and unsanitary conditions.

Migrants from Bangladesh rely on charities for food.

Migrants from Bangladesh rely on charities for food. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

In a statement, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment said a cross-government team had been mobilised to look at options for welfare support and suitable accommodation for the migrants.

Auckland Council told Checkpoint it was working through the final stages of its own investigation, but was unable to give RNZ a timeline on next steps.

Government steps in with support package

Meanwhile, the government has announced temporary support to the migrant workers who are currently living in overcrowded accommodation after having been exploited while holding Accredited Employer Work Visas.

The interim package includes accommodation in a motel, or about $220 per person, per week of living cost support payments in the form of a payment card.

"We are ensuring the immediate welfare needs of this group of Indian and Bangladeshi nationals are being met by providing temporary accommodation and a basic allowance" Immigration compliance and investigations general manager Steve Watson said.

"The government is concerned about these cases of migrant workers in difficult circumstances, we take their wellbeing and any allegations of migrant exploitation and fraud seriously."





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