The First Syrian Refugees Flights Are Booked To Canada
More than 300 Syrian refugees have had their flights booked to Canada from camps in the Middle East. The news comes as the first planes are set to arrive at two of Canada’s busiest airports as late as next week.
The Immigration Minister John McCallum has announced that the government officials will brief journalists once a week in order to keep Canadian citizens informed. There are plans to resettle 10 000 by the end of the year and another 15 000 by the 1st of March 2016.
McCallum said that Canadians could welcome even more refugees next year. This would bring the total amount of refugees resettled in Canada as high as 50 000.
“We will have an unknown number of additional private [sponsored refugees],” said McCallum, “and so my guess, it will probably be in the range of 35,000-50,000.”
There have been a total of 271 Syrian refugees that have already arrived in Canada as of the 4th of November. This is in addition to the 3089 Syrian refugees who arrived in Canada from the 1st of January to the 3rd of November.
The government’s plan to resettle the 25 000 refugees will be implemented in a five step plan at a cost of $378 million over a six year period.
The five phases are:
- Identifying Syrian refugees who want to come to Canada.
- Processing, screening and selecting refugees overseas.
- Arranging for their travel to Canada.
- Welcoming and screening refugees upon their arrival in Canada.
- Ensuring their long-term resettlement and integration into society.
Priority for those who are a ‘low risk’
Canada has asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to give priority to refugees who pose a “low security risk”. These people will include:
- Complete families
- Women at risk
- Gays and lesbians
- Single men identified as vulnerable due to membership in the LGBT community
- Those accompanying parents as part of a family
To help fast-track the application of Syrian refugees, the Canadian government will be deploying 441 staff to the two dedicated visa offices in Jordan and Lebanon. The UN refugee office has been contacting potential applicants in camps by text ad phone.
The process is similar in Turkey, but it is the government, not the UN, who is responsible for communicating directly with and registering Syrian refugees.
Security screening includes the verification of the identity of refugees who have expressed an interest in coming to Canada against their photo registration cards and iris scans. The Canada Border Services Agency will also screen the refugees prior to them leaving for Canada and once again when arriving in Canada.
To date some 1015 refugees have received their permanent residence visas to come to Canada but have yet to arrive in the country.
- 271 — Syrian refugees who have arrived in Canada since Nov. 4
- 208 — Syrian refugees who have arrived through private sponsors
- 52 — Syrian refugees who have arrived through government sponsorship.
- 11 — Syrian refugees who have arrived through a blended government-private process.
- 65 — Communities across the country (not including Quebec) that are preparing to resettle refugees over the long term.
- 36 — Cities across the country, 13 in Quebec and 23 in the rest of Canada, which will initially welcome Syrian refugees even if on a temporary basis.
- 9,090 — Syrian refugee resettlements applications that are currently in progress.
- 36 per cent — Syrian refugees under the age 18.
- 1,015 — Syrian refugees that have been issued permanent residency visas to come to Canada, but have not yet arrived.
UN refugee agency contacts
- 41,050 — text messages sent by the UN refugee agency to potential applicants to see if they are interested in coming to Canada.
- 33,218 — text messages sent by the UN refugee agency to refugees in Jordan
- 7,832 — text messages by the UN refugee agency to refugees in Lebanon.
- 28,560 — Syrian refugees contacted by the UN refugee agency over the phone.
- 3,049 — Syrian refugees that showed up for interviews after being contacted by the UN refugee agency.
- 1,801 — Syrian refugees referred by the UN refugee agency to Canadian immigration officials for resettlement.
- 1,216 — Syrian refugees referred from Jordan.
- 585 — Syrian refugees referred from Lebanon.
Identifying the Syrian refugees has proved to be a challenge. Out of the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees that have been contacted by the UN refugee agency by either text or phone, only a little over 3000 have shown up for their interviews.
Some contact details will inevitably out of date but government officials in Ottawa have said that some Syrian refugees are simply finding it hard to leave their family and friends.