Asia-Pacific

Christchurch attack survivors to be offered New Zealand residency

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Source: AAP

Survivors of the Christchurch mosque attacks and their families who had been living in the country will be offered New Zealand residency under a special visa.

New Zealand is set to grant permanent residency to all survivors of the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques.

Fifty people were killed and 50 others wounded at Friday prayers in the country's worst peacetime mass shootings.

Suspected white supremacist, Australian Brenton Tarrant, was charged with 50 counts of murder. 

Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand
A police officer stands guard in front of the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
AP

The government said earlier it was considering giving visas to survivors, but no decision was announced.

The news of the new visa was only released as a link on the immigration website, which some say was done to avoid any backlash by opponents of immigration.

Immigration New Zealand said a new visa category called the Christchurch Response (2019) visa had been created.

People who were present at the mosques when they were attacked on March 15 can apply, as can immediate family members.

Applicants must have been living in New Zealand on the day of the attack. Applications can be made from Wednesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the attack was an act of terrorism and passed firearm laws banning semi-automatic weapons.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meeting Muslim community.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meeting members of the Muslim community.
AAP

A Sri Lankan minister said on Tuesday that the Easter bombings at churches and hotels that killed 321 people appeared to be retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attacks.

The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the co-ordinated blasts.

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