Wellington—New Zealand will offer 4,000 special visas to refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine if they have family in the southern hemisphere nation, its government said Tuesday.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said it was New Zealand’s largest special visa category in decades in support of an international aid effort.
Over 2.8 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, according to UN estimates.
“It’s a two-year visa to help people escape the current conflict and to shelter here in the hope they can return home when the war ends,” Faafoi said.
For one year, the estimated 1,600 Ukrainian-born citizens and residents in New Zealand will be allowed to sponsor family members for the special visa, under which they will be allowed to work.
Relatives included in the scheme include parents, grandparents and their adult siblings or adult children and their immediate family who have fled Ukraine.
“New Zealand has moved quickly to condemn the brutal and intolerable invasion of Ukraine,” the minister said.
New Zealand also announced an extra NZ$4 million (US$2.7 million) in humanitarian funding.
“Alongside other diplomatic measures, we have acted urgently to respond to Russia’s hostility by instituting travel bans, export controls, passing the Russia Sanctions Act 2022, and providing aid funding to support crucial humanitarian work,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government on Monday launched a website in partnership with crypto-firms FTX and Everstake that will funnel donations to Ukraine’s central bank as it combats a devastating invasion by Russia.
On the “Aid for Ukraine” website, users can currently offer donations in 10 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, ether, tether and dogecoin.
“Cryptocurrencies play a significant role in Ukraine’s defense,” Oleksandre Borniakov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of Digital Transformation, said in a statement.
“Cryptocurrency assets have proven to be extremely valuable in facilitating the flow of funding to Ukrainian citizens and soldiers and in raising awareness and interest among the global public,” he added.
The crypto firm Everstake, one of the largest in Ukraine, will allow users be able to make donations in other cryptocurrencies than those listed on the site.
The site also plans to add the ability to donate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the future.
Bahamas-based exchange platform FTX, founded by US billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, will convert the donated funds into dollars and route them to the National Bank of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian cryptocurrency exchange platform Kuna is also part of the initiative.
On the “Aid for Ukraine” site, a tracker showed that by 0230 GMT Tuesday, almost $49 million had been raised out of a goal of $200 million.
The money will be used to support the Ukrainian military as well as civilians “in dire need of humanitarian assistance,” the partnership said in the statement.