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New Zealand helping to pay Christchurch shooting victims' funerals, regardless of immigration status

Thousands attend memorials for mosque shooting victims

At least fifty people were killed and 50 others were wounded in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday, and the country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said families of the fallen won't have to worry about the full cost of funeral expenses while mourning their loved ones, regardless of their immigration status.

"For ACC — as I've said before immigration status is not a factor — it is based on the event happening here in New Zealand," the prime minister wote in a statement March 17. "In an event such as this — murder or manslaughter — the family is eligible for a funeral grant of around $10,000."

The Accident Compensation Corporation, or ACC, is the country's organization that covers all of its citizens and visitors under a no-fault scheme if they're injured in an accident, according to its website. ACC provides financial compensation to help with the cost of recovering from an accident, including "payment towards treatment, help at home and work and help with your income."

"Whether you've been injured in the Christchurch attacks or have lost a loved one, we're here to help," ACC's support page states. "We'll work with you and your family to make sure you get the help you need."

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The site explains there are various ways those impacted can get help, from providing child care support, counseling, help at home and replacing a portion of one's lost earnings due to injuries sustained during the attack. Those who lost a loved one in the shootings, can receive a total of $10,000 for a funeral or memorial — tax free — and it can be held in the country or abroad.

In addition to funeral costs, tax-free "survivor grants" are available for the partner, children and dependents of the person who died. ACC will also provide ongoing support to children of the deceased, as well as provide a portion of income lost from the death.

The prime minister said the bodies of those who died are being returned to their families and expects all of the deceased will be reunited with their loved ones by Wednesday.

The 28-year-old suspected shooter is an Australian national and has been charged with murder. Two other people, whose roles are not clear, are still in custody. A man who claimed responsibility for the attack penned a racist manifesto, writing about "white genocide" driven by "mass immigration." The suspect appeared in court Saturday and will not be seen in court again until April 5.

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