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First 10,000 Syrian refugees to come by year end, more by February

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2015

OTTAWA — The Liberal government will not meet its Dec. 31 deadline to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees and now says it aims to complete the program by February.

The new target is to bring 10,000 people to Canada by year’s end and the remainder in the first two months of 2016.

In a Facebook post this afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the delay, saying it is important to “do it right.”

“Protecting the safety, security and health of Canadians and refugees is a key factor in guiding the government of Canada’s plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees as soon as possible,” he wrote. “While also taking the time to do it right.”

The group will be a mix of government-assisted and privately sponsored refugees, all of whom will be identified by the end of next month.

The decision to abandon original year-end deadline to resettle the entire 25,000 was due to nothing more than a need to institute the best possible program, Immigration Minister John McCallum said.

“I’ve heard Canadians across the country say ‘yes, you have to do it right and if it takes a little bit longer to do it right than take the extra time,’” he said. “When we welcome our newcomer friends with a smile, a smile alone is not sufficient.”

The Canadian government is working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as the Turkish government to find suitable candidates.

Priority for government refugees will be given to complete families, women at risk, members of sexual minorities and single men only if they are identified as gay, bisexual or transgender or are travelling as part of a family.

“There are major logistical challenges in coordinating this action and we need to have a little bit more time.” – Immigration Minister John McCallum

Private sponsors have no restrictions on whom they can bring over and the majority of refugees expected to arrive by the end of the year will be coming via private groups.

All health and security screening will take place overseas and once that’s complete, refugees will be flown to Toronto and Montreal, largely on chartered aircraft.

From there, they will be spread across 36 different destination cities which already have resettlement programs in place.


Welcome Refugees, the government’s plan on resettling Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees coming to Canada: What you need to know

Temporary accommodation will be provided by the military if required, but the government aims to have lodging in place in the host cities and towns.

The federal government cost for the program is an estimated $678 million over the next six years but doesn’t include additional funding that could be necessary for provinces and territories.

More than 500 officials have been assigned to work on the massive resettlement program, one of the largest of its kind in the world as it relates to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Since the outbreak of the war there in 2011, the UN estimates some 4.2 million people have been displaced.

The Liberals first commitment to a large-scale resettlement program during the federal election promised to resettle 25,000 people by the end of the year.

That was on top of the ongoing resettlement of Syrians refugees that began in 2013.

Government officials say that those who arrived prior to Nov. 4, 2015 will not be counted as being among the 25,000.

Since that date, about 100 Syrians have arrived in Canada.

By the numbers

The Liberal government has unveiled how it aims to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada. Here is a by-the-numbers look at the plan:

5 — The number of phases for Canada’s Syrian refugee plan which includes identification, processing, transportation, arrivals and integration.

6 — The number of years in the government’s financial plan.

678 million — The estimated federal cost of the refugee program, not including help for provinces.

500 — The number of staff from all departments working on the Syrian refugee file overseas.

10,000 — The number of refugees expected to come to Canada by Dec. 31, 2015.

15,000 — The remaining refugees expected to come to Canada by February 2016.

10,000 — The number of privately-sponsored refugees.

15,000 — The number of government-sponsored refugees.


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