A Syrian man who made New Zealand his home nine years ago fears his daughter and her family will die in his unsettled homeland before they can join him in Auckland.
Joseph Millar, 65, arrived here as an asylum seeker in 2003 with his wife and five of his eight children and adopted a Western name, fearing for his family back home.
In July last year his 71-year-old sister died as she fled rockets and gunfire aimed at her apartment in Mr Millar's home city of Hama, eastern Syria.
He fears the same fate will befall his 26-year-old daughter (his last child left in Syria), her husband, and their two children aged seven and four, who also live in Hama.
His daughter, who for safety reasons he doesn't want named, has suffered from depression, anxiety and heart problems since the pro-democracy uprising began in April last year.
She fears for her life and the lives of her children as the constant sound of gunfire, bombs and screams from outside her home haunt her. They run the risk of being shot by snipers when they venture out so she can't go to the hospital, Mr Millar says.
He tries calling his daughter daily but damage to the city's communications infrastructure means he can only get through about once a fortnight.
The last time he spoke to her - 13 days ago - she was so distraught she could barely speak.
Mr Millar hopes to bring the family to New Zealand under the Refugee Family Support Category which allows 300 family members of established refugees to come to the country each year.
In addition, New Zealand allows on average 750 refugees referred by the United Nations into the country each year.
However, the Department of Labour told NZ Newswire it could take up to six years for family members of a settled refugee to be granted residency.
This year alone more than 3349 applications were received.
"Therefore, registrations for Tier Two are unlikely to open again in the next few years," a statement from the department said.
Mr Millar has already consulted a lawyer and plans to put forward an application to bring his daughter and her family to New Zealand next week.
"What is happening in Syria is very, very terrible," Mr Millar told NZ Newswire.
"Security forces kill anybody - children, old people, women, anybody - that is why our family really want to bring my daughter to New Zealand as soon as possible."
The United Nations estimates 10,000 have been killed in Syria since the uprising began.
President Bashar al-Assad said this week Syria was in "a real state of war" and US intelligence officials predicted a long, drawn-out struggle, the BBC reported.