Magazine article Anglican Journal

Canada 'Not Doing Enough' for Syrian Refugees

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Canada 'Not Doing Enough' for Syrian Refugees

Article excerpt

The more than 3.3 million people who have fled the violence in Syria represent overwhelming human need, but the response from Canada has been underwhelming, according to groups working to bring refugees into the country.

In July 2013, Jason Kenney, then minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), announced a program that made Syrian refugees a ministerial priority and aimed to bring 1,300 people to Canada by the end of 2014-200 as government assisted refugees and 1,100 as privately sponsored refugees. But figures released by the government in mid-November showed that only 457 had arrived in Canada, 294 as government assisted and 163 through private sponsorship.

The figures have become a matter of political debate. Kevin Menard, press secretary to current minister Chris Alexander, told the Anglican Journal in early December that the department had approved more than 1,150 Syrian refugees to come to Canada since mid-2013 and pledged that "we will do more."

In January, the government announced that it would welcome an additional 10,000 refugees over three years.

Don Smith, chair of the refugee working group for the diocese of Ottawa, said the numbers released in November don't make sense to him. Of the privately sponsored refugees, 163 have arrived, and the Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association counted some 400 applications that had been submitted.

"They are still a long way from approval," Smith said.

The government also reported that 900 Syrians have been granted refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board, but Smith said that they would have been people already in Canada.

Even if all 1,300 refugees had arrived, Smith said Canada is not doing enough to respond to the crisis. The numbers "are miniscule compared to what the need is."

Smith acknowledged that the process of bringing refugees to Canada from Syria has been expedited, but said the country needs to increase the numbers and proportion of refugees it is assisting. …

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