The daily queue of Syrians outside the United Nations (UN) refugee agency in Lebanon has expanded to thousands each week. A Canadian, Ninette Kelley, said she has realized the seriousness of the situation while working in Lebanon. She is an official from Toronto and a representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, she began her post in May 2010. When Kelley’s mission concluded last June, the UN was the overseer of the largest such mission in the world with an intake of 1.2 million Syrians.
Lebanon is smaller than the island of Vancouver and the population before the civil war broke out was 4 million. Kelley describes the intake of refugees as a slow and steady burn. To date, Canada has taken in 9 million refugees. Kelley has been working to ease the crisis since April 2011, years before the Syrian boy’s body was washed ashore.
Migrant relief has been announced by some countries like the Canada and the U.S. and Germany but some countries in Europe have not done the same and have even closed their borders. Kelley was on the ground before the civil war started and she unexpectedly gained responsibility for international assistance to a country that has been “completely overwhelmed”. There is a global sense of urgency now more than ever but the crisis is already in its fourth year.
Canada’s federal government has announced that they will be speeding up the processing time of Syrian refugees on home soil, the processing time has been changed from 3 years to 15 months. Kelley said, “The news on Canada is definitely very, very good news,” Kelley said. “But it’s part of a broader package of measures that UNHCR is advocating for in the developed world.”
The agency is urging all national governments to share the burden that has been covered by countries that have far fewer resources. This includes exerting more political pressure on the regime, pledging more humanitarian funding and easing refugee entry procedures. One needs to take into account that 80% of Syrian refugees are women and children.
Canada is doing all it can to help ease the pressures that the world is facing because of the Syrian refugee crisis. People are starting to realize that these refugees are in dire need of help as they have left everything that they own behind just to save their lives and the lives of their children.