Last Updated on August 23, 2021
Ottawa is pledging to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees threatened by the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
“Offering refuge to the world’s most vulnerable speaks to who we are as Canadians, particularly in times of crisis,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
“As more Afghan refugees continue to seek shelter in Canada, we’re redoubling our efforts to help 20,000 Afghans refugees – who remain vulnerable wherever they go – find safety here. The situation in Afghanistan is heartbreaking, and Canada will not stand idly by.”
July Sees Surge in New Permanent Residents to Canada as Ottawa Tries to Hit Immigration Target
Newfoundland and Labrador Extends Federal Immigration Agreement
Immigration Minister Mendicino Talks Opening U.S. Border With US Counterpart
Canada has been out of the region for seven years. But the United States only pulled out its troops from Bagram Airfield, the centre of its military operations in the country, in July.
Afghans Desperate To Flee Country Escape In Crowded Planes
Since then, thousands of Afghans have been trying desperately to leave the country. The United States has airlifted cargo planes jam-packed with Afghans as many fled the country. Now that the Taliban has taken over the government, many more are still in the war-torn country, trying to leave and frightened that the Taliban will fail to keep its promise of peace and attack them.
“Canadians are deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
“People around the world know they can count on Canada to support them in times of need, and Canada will be there for vulnerable Afghans. Women leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, religious minorities, LGBTI individuals, and others covered by this program will be safe here in Canada, and I look forward to welcoming them to our country.”
Last month, Canada offered to take in Afghani interpreters who worked with the Canadian Armed Forces and also cooks, drivers, cleaners, construction workers, security guards and other staff who worked at the Canada Embassy in Afghanistan and their family members.
“Canada has a responsibility to protect the brave people in Afghanistan who have helped us carry out our mission over 20 years to advance human rights, education, health and security in their country,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau at that time.
“As violence spreads, ensuring the safety and security of all of our personnel, whether Canadian or Afghan, past or present, and the people who are helping us on the ground, is our top priority.”
Canada Redoubles Efforts
The latest effort by Ottawa doubles the number of Afghans that will be accepted into Canada as refugees.
The foreign affairs minister says he is close contact with Canada’s allies in the region as well as the Canadian ambassador in Kabul.
“Afghans have put their lives at great risk to support Canada in helping Afghans achieve significant democratic, human rights, education, health and security gains over the past twenty years,” said Garneau. “We owe them a debt of gratitude and we will continue our efforts to bring them to safety.”
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) already introduced a special program to focus on particularly vulnerable groups that are already welcomed to Canada through existing resettlement streams, including women leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, persecuted religious minorities, LGBTI individuals, and family members of previously resettled interpreters.
Flights Full of Refugees Arriving In Canada
The program will welcome government-supported and privately-sponsored refugees, along with those sponsored by family already in Canada.
The refugee program is being run in partnership with the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation to resettle hundreds of persecuted Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.
Two weeks ago, Canada welcomed the first flight carrying Afghan refugees.
“Today, the Government of Canada is welcoming the first of a number of flights carrying Afghan refugees who provided crucial support to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
“This first group is now beginning their new life in Canada, and we welcome them with open arms. More flights will be arriving in the coming days and weeks. We committed to do right by the Afghans who supported Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. With the arrival of the first resettled Afghan refugees in Canada, we are making good on that promise.”