Magazine article Anglican Journal

Refugee Workers Seek More Diocesan Support

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Refugee Workers Seek More Diocesan Support

Article excerpt

Since the worldwide refugee crisis was catapulted into public consciousness a year ago, Canadian Anglicans have helped to resettle around 1,750 refugees, says Suzanne Rumsey, refugee co-ordinator for The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).

During this period, around 320 parish and community groups from 15 dioceses across Canada have raised over $20 million to resettle refugees from conflict zones in Syria, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Colombia, Congo and elsewhere.

Rumsey lauded this significant increase in sponsorships as a sign of Anglican hospitality, but she also sounded a cautionary note about the significant strain it has placed on diocesan refugee co-ordinators, many of whom manage large volumes of work with little support.

"The Syrian situation has highlighted the generosity of Canadians and Anglicans...But it is also highlighting the weaknesses in the system, in our own way of administering these sponsorship agreements," Rumsey said.

Fourteen dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada--Saskatoon, Ottawa, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Calgary, Qu'Appelle, Rupert's Land, Toronto, Huron, Kootenay/Territory of the People (formerly APCI), Edmonton, Niagara, British Columbia, New Westminster and Ontario--hold sponsorship agreements with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRC). This gives them access to a specific quota of refugee cases made available through the federal government.

Sponsorship agreements are held by diocesan bishops, but it is the co-ordinators who help interested parishes and community groups apply to sponsor refugee cases. With the sudden surge of interest in refugee resettlement, many co-ordinators have been pushed to the limits of what they can manage on their own.

"[Some] co-ordinators have gone from working on refugee sponsorship from about 10 hours a month to 12 hours a day," said Rumsey. …

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