Eritrean Ibrahim Omer made history last month as the first ever African to be elected Member of Parliament in New Zealand.
The 42-year-old former refugeerepresents Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party, which romped to victory with the biggest majority vote win in the last half-century.
Ibrahim Omer has become the first African-origin member of Parliament in New Zealand after Saturday’s general election.
Ibrahim Omer, who fled his native Eritrea to seek refuge in Sudan told the BBC that his win was historic.
“I’m very overwhelmed, very excited at the same time because this is for us as a country New Zealand and for me as a person and for the community that I represent here in New Zealand.”
Between 2003 and 2008, Omer lived as a refugee in Sudan where he became an interpreter in United Nations-run refugee camps.
He was detained after accusations of espionage, but the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees intervened, prompting his subsequent relocation to New Zealand in 2008.
“It was at this crucial moment of my life New Zealand came asking for any special cases, luckily I got accepted, that was the day that changed my life. If it wasn’t for this wonderful country, I would be languishing somewhere in an underground prison in a desert.”
He says his presence in the New Zealand parliament will be benefiting the community.
“I suppose to me the reason why I was doing it was a way of also giving back to the society, to the community, to the country that gave me so much. At the end of the day, the tax payers funded me coming to New Zealand so I needed to do, I needed to say thank you by doing something, something nice for the communities and the country.”
He promised to “fight for people in the positions he has been in to have better opportunities for a decent life” during his campaigns, and dedicated his new role promotion to “the low paid workers” and “former refugees”.