CCR welcomes government announcement on Syrian refugees, calls for stronger government commitment

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Media release

For immediate release
21 September 2015

CCR welcomes government announcement on Syrian refugees, calls for stronger government commitment

The CCR welcomed today the important steps being taken by the government to remove barriers to the resettlement of Syrian refugees and to speed up their arrival. The measures announced by the federal government respond to several of the recommendations made by the CCR.

  • Removing the requirement of proof of refugee status for persons sponsored by Groups of Five is a crucial change. That requirement meant that Syrian refugees in the Middle East region were barred from sponsorship by Groups of Five. The change will open the door to sponsorships of Syrians by Groups of Five (such as the group that was trying to sponsor Alan Kurdi’s uncle and his family).
  • Measures to reduce red tape for privately sponsored refugees will be greatly appreciated. The process has become extremely bureaucratic: efforts to facilitate sponsorships are sorely needed.
  • Promised increases in resources at both at the Centralized Processing Office Winnipeg and the visa offices in the region are very welcome and absolutely necessary to allow Canadians to respond to the crisis by sponsoring Syrian refugees in a timely manner.

We continue to call on the government not to rely only on private sponsors to resettle Syrians but to take responsibility, on behalf of all Canadians, for a significant and urgent response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

  • The CCR is disappointed that there is no increase in the number of government-assisted refugees. All of the government announcements regarding Syrian refugees have been within existing commitments. The number of refugees in the world has shot up, but the number of refugees resettled by the Canadian government has not increased at all. We reiterate our call for the government to resettle 10,000 Syrians, funded by the government and brought to Canada by the end of 2015.
  • We continue to be concerned about the lack of response to Syrians with family in Canada. We reiterate our recommendation that flexible measures (such as Temporary Resident Permits) be introduced for Syrians with family in Canada (including those still in Syria, who cannot be sponsored as refugees).
  • Syrians refugees, like any other refugees who are privately sponsored, continue to be denied access to full Interim Federal Health coverage. This exposes private sponsors to the risk of catastrophic costs if, for example, a person sponsored needs expensive medications. Contrary to recent statements by the Prime Minister, privately sponsored refugees suffered – and continue to suffer – reductions in health care coverage as a result of the cuts imposed by the government in 2012.

“To quote Henri Nouwen, a life is priceless and irreplaceable. Let our actions towards Syrian refugees reflect our awareness that their lives are priceless and irreplaceable,” said Loly Rico, CCR President.

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Contact:

Colleen French, Communication Coordinator, Canadian Council for Refugees, 514-277-7223, ext. 1, cfrench@ccrweb.ca