Letter: Canada should resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees

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A day ahead of World Refugee Day 2014, CPJ wrote to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander calling on the federal government to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees. With seven million Syrians internally displaced and 2.7 million seeking refugee outside Syria’s borders, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has called for international partners to help in resettled 100,000 refugees. Historically, Canada has taken pride in accepting 10 per cent of all refugees resettled worldwide. It’s time for Canada to step up and open our doors to welcome Syrians in need. 

Letter

June 19, 2014

Hon. Chris Alexander, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
365 Laurier Avenue West

Ottawa, ON K1A 1L1

Dear Mr. Minister,

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) writes to you during “Refugee Week” in order to add our voice to that of many Canadians who believe our country should, and could, process more refugees from Syria in an expedited manner.

We note that the UN has registered 2.7 million Syrian refugees, and yet another seven million persons are displaced within that country. Their suffering cries out for a range of responses from the international community, an important one being a more generous number of persons being resettled sooner in Canada.

We commend your government for announcing (in July 2013) a commitment to resettle 1,300 Syria refugees by the end of 2014. We are appreciative of Canada’s historic commitment and support for refugees from around the world, including for Syrian refuges in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. That said, given what Canada has done historically and what the international community is doing currently to resettle Syrian refugees, Citizens for Public Justice believes we can do more.

During the recent visit to Ottawa of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, he called on international partners to help resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees. Given Canada’s previous history of acceptances, we suggest that your government could respond by accepting 10% of this number.

Additionally, we ask you to do all in your power to speed up arrivals of Syrian refugees. Only 200 spaces were committed on behalf of the government (Government-Assisted Refugees), yet we understand that a much smaller number has arrived and that there continue to be delays and processing challenges that militate against refugees reaching Canada. 

Regarding the 1,100 spaces designated for privately sponsored refugees we ask that your Government work in collaboration with Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association to explore effective strategies to resettle Syrian refugees. Private sponsorship applications have been submitted to sponsor Syrian refugees yet no privately sponsored refugees have arrived to Canada. We believe more can be done through the private sponsorship of refugees program particularly through a more collaborative approach with the Government.

As a national organization of members inspired by faith to work for policies and practices that reflect God’s call for love, justice and stewardship, we work with many faith-based organizations that would like to respond more fully to the Syrian refugee crisis.

The seriousness of the crisis for Syrian refugees is felt every day. We hope that Canada’s leaders will open our doors as wide as the Canadian population already is prepared to open our homes to Syrians in need.

Please be assured of our prayerful support and active collaboration with your staff in working to resolve pending issues and working for the increased and successful resettlement of Syrian refugees to Canada.

Please do not hesitate to contact either of us if we can be of any assistance to you or your staff.

Sincerely yours,

 

Will Postma, Chair of the Board

Joe Gunn, Executive Director

 

Cc        Hon. John McCallum, Liberal Citizenship and Immigration critic

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, NDP Citizenship and Immigration critic

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