CISSA-ACSEI Calls on Government of Canada to Implement Immediate Multi-Pronged Approach to Syrian Refugee Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 3, 2015
Vancouver, BC

CISSA-ACSEI Calls on Government of Canada to Implement Immediate Multi-Pronged Approach to Syrian Refugee Crisis. While the Syrian crisis is at the forefront of Canadians’ minds these days, it is important to remember, as UNHCR High Commissioner Antonio Guiterres has noted, that there are more refugees in need of third country resettlement out of the African continent than the Middle East region in 2016.

The world refugee crisis will continue beyond the current federal election. We need to build a multi-pronged long-term approach that addresses immediate as well as protracted refugee situations.

The UNHCR, backed by CISSA-ACSEI, issued an emergency call for Canada to accept 10,000 Syrian government assisted refugees over two years OVER AND ABOVE the current 2015 government assisted refugee (GAR) target of 6,906 individuals. But from January 1, 2013 to August 31, 2015, B.C. has received only 72 Syrian government assisted refugees.

The target emergency response figure of 10,000 was also not intended to include private refugee sponsorship initiatives by faith communities and Canadians in general through G5 arrangements.

We ask the Government of Canada to:

  • Immediately implement the pre-activation stage of Canada’s Emergency Refugee Contingency Plan as developed in March 2002 in response to the Kosovo Emergency Refugee Response. This plan includes putting on alert Canada’s current 36 refugee reception centres, sponsorship agreement holders, and the Ministry of Defence in the use of Canada’s military bases for possible immediate relocation of Syrian refugees from Europe, and consulting with Provincial Ministers responsible for Immigration;
  • Consult immediately with UNHCR HQ and European States to determine current Syrian refugee resettlement needs. Multilateral consultations are needed to finalize an emergency resettlement target;
  • Process all Syrians in Europe who have direct family ties in Canada for emergency family reunification including if necessary, the issuance of a Minister’s permit to expedite their immigration process. Family should be defined as it was during Kosovar refugee movement in 1999 as “extended family” members that include grandparents, uncles, aunts, parents, nephews, etc;
  • Increase funding to UNHCR emergency operations. Canada currently contributes $81 million annually to UNHCR operations. We suggest that Canada make a one-time initial emergency contribution of $400 million;
  • Provide through CIC $10m annual funding for refugee reception centres to implement first-language trauma support programs. An increased number of resettled refugees are arriving with significant trauma that require immediate professional interventions to
    assist their long term integration process. Similar federal government commitment has been in place for years in Australia where like Canada, health is a provincial responsibility.

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