As violence continues to spread as a result of civil wars in both countries, the Canadian government has agreed to open its doors to thousands of additional refugees from Syria and Iraq.
As part of its overall humanitarian efforts to aid those most affected by the civil wars in Iraq and Syria, Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that Canada will welcome an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees as well as 3,000 more Iraqi refugees.
In 2009, Alexander had originally announced that Canada would agree to resettle 20,000 Iraqi refugees; according to Alexander, Canada has already surpassed the commitment of those original numbers, with more than 1,075 Iraqis already resettled into Canada.
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Canada has also granted protection to 2,480 Syrian nationals through the country’s resettlement and asylum programs. The United Nations Commission For Refugees has called for the resettlement of at least 100,000 Syrian refugees worldwide. The Canadian government says that with the announcement of its accepting additional Syrian refugees, Canada will have taken in about 10 percent of that UN total.
The Syrian refugees are expected to be resettled into Canada over the course of the next three years, while the additional Iraqi refugees should all be resettled into Canada by the end of this year.
Canada has played a very active role in the coalition efforts battling the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State Of Iraq & Syria), which is cited by most experts as being the driving force behind the growing refugee crisis in both Syria and Iraq. In addition to providing military support to the battle against ISIS, the Canadian military also continues to aid in the humanitarian relief efforts for the hundreds of thousands of affected refugees.
Canada has already committed more than $680 million of assistance to the crisis resulting from the Syrian civil war, including over $400 million in humanitarian assistance as well as over $210 million ‘developmental’ assistance to the general region, including Jordan—the country that has absorbed the majority of Syrian refugees.
Canada, however, is not the Western leader in providing protection for Syrian refugees, as both Germany and Sweden have taken in more refugees from that country; Germany has taken in 6,000 Syrians, with promises of an additional 20, 000, and Sweden has given residency to 30,000 Syrian war refugees.
The Canadian government says that, all told, Canada will be providing “protection” to over 35,000 Syrian—and Iraqi—refugees affected by the ongoing civil wars.
Still, while the Conservative government says that Canada is not only meeting—but exceeding—its commitment to take in Syrian and Iraqi refugees, there have been reports that Canada actually resettled less than 1,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2014, less than its original commitment of 1,300 by year’s end.
Martin Mark, a representative of the Office For Refugees at the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT)—a Catholic charity—said that Canadian government bureaucracy has hindered his organization’s ability to resettle Syrian refugees.
Mark says that, due entirely to government delays, his group was not able to sponsor as many Syrian refugees as it had hoped to, and that many refugee applications that were not processed in 2014 will likely have to be resubmitted yet again this year.