Ottawa, Citizenship and Immagration – Canada
Canada will more than double the number of privately sponsored Iraqi refugees it accepts from the Middle East, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney has announced. “Taken together with government-assisted refugees, this means that the number of Iraqi refugees coming to Canada will have more than quadrupled since 2005,” Minister Kenney said while speaking before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
“Last year our government, at the behest of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, committed to increasing by more than 50 percent the number of resettled refugees from the Middle East in response to the Iraqi refugee crisis,” he said. “I am happy to announce further increases. Canada had planned to raise its private sponsorship program levels for Damascus to 1,200 people in 2009. I have instructed my officials to increase that number by an additional 1,300 people per year for the next three years. The number of government-assisted refugees will also increase by 230 people.”
“We chose Damascus because that is where the majority of Iraqi refugees apply. Canada will resettle approximately 2,500 refugees under its private sponsorship program each year for the next three years, in addition to its government-assisted refugees program which this year will resettle 1,400 refugees through the Damascus mission. This represents a fourfold increase over 2005, when approximately 800 refugees were accepted from that mission. It also means that Canada will continue to play a leading role in easing the plight of Iraqi refugees through resettlement.”
Abraham Abraham, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Canada, highly appreciated the response of the Government of Canada to the UNHCR’s call to find solutions for refugees in Middle East countries, where over two million Iraqi refugees are hosted. “Canada should be commended for continuing to uphold its humanitarian commitment to finding permanent solutions for refugees in one of the most pressing refugee situations in the world,” Mr. Abraham said.
Noting the Committee’s own concern for the desperate circumstances affecting Iraqi refugees, the Minister said he had always been a passionate supporter of the humanitarian dimension of our immigration system and he was keen to make it stronger. Each year, 19 countries from around the world resettle about 100,000 refugees. From that number, Canada resettles 10,000 to 12,000 each year from 70 different nationalities, or one out of every ten refugees resettled globally.