The Caribbean community joined members of other nations at Yonge-Dundas Square last Saturday to welcome Canada’s leadership on the Syrian refugee crisis with a collective “We Welcome Refugees!”
One event organizer, Fahad Al, concurred with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that “We have a responsibility to significantly expand our refugee targets and give more victims of war a safe haven in Canada.
“The resettling of vulnerable refugees is a clear demonstration of this. While our plan is ambitious, it reflects Canada’s commitment to share responsibility and offer protection to those who need it,” Al said.
“Canada must once again be regarded as the compassionate, generous country we’ve always been.”
Canadian-born Ranyah Hasan, 23, whose mother Pansey is Guyanese and whose father is from Iraq, told The Camera that “Growing up in Pickering wasn’t that diverse, so it was difficult in the early days. We hid our faith but as you get older, you become more empowered. So, I’m here to give my support.”
She added, “Inshallah, God willing, this can be done as a win-win.”
She said she agrees with Dr. Jane Philpott, minister of health and chair of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Refugees, that Canada has fostered a long and proud tradition of humanitarian leadership on the global stage.
Canadians have always done what we can, when and where we can, Hasan said. “We are ready to welcome these people who have suffered so much, with a plan that will both address the health of refugees, while continuing to protect and maintain the good health of all Canadians,” Philpott said.
On Tuesday, the federal government announced that 10,000 Syrian refugees from various countries where they are temporarily housed will be in Canada by Dec. 31. The balance of the 25,000 selected and security checked refugees will be identified by the end of this year but will continue coming here up to Feb. 20, 2016.
At a press conference, federal ministers explained that protecting the security and health of the refugees and Canadians alike is guiding the government.
“I support the government of Canada for taking immediate action to welcome 25, 000 Syrian refugees to Canada as quickly as possible, through a five-phase national plan,” Al said.
The five phases are identifying Syrian refugees to come to Canada, selecting and processing those refugees overseas, transportation to Canada, arrival and welcome in Canada and settlement and community integration.
Canada will work closely with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to identify registered Syrian refugees who can be resettled. Canada’s focus will be on identifying vulnerable refugees who are a lower security risk.
Robust health and security screening will be completed overseas. This will included the collection of biographic information and biometric screening of all refugees, verified against international databases.
The ministers said the government views resettling the refugees as a national effort that will require significant coordination and support. Ottawa is working with other levels of government, non-government organizations, partners and Canadians across the country, wherever the refugees will build their new lives.
They added that while the federal government will foot much of the $1-billion-plus cost of the endeavor, they are already aware of many individuals and groups that want to sponsor Syrian refugees independently.