Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 4 #7, 3 November 2009

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CONTENTS:

    1. Delays at Nairobi Visa Post: Protection delayed is protection denied
    2. Concerns for protection for Sri Lankans who arrived by boat
    3. Refugee Appeal Division: Take Action!  Bill C-291 back in the House of Commons
    4. More calls for end to refugee transportation loans
    5. Are you Building Welcoming Communities?  Come to the CCR Fall Consultation 3-5 December, Windsor
    6. Participate in the National Forum: Improving Services and Protection for Trafficked Persons, 2-3 December, Windsor
    7. Faces of the CCR: Saundra Rennie, Melissa Ventura and Sandhya Shanker, New Canadians Centre of Excellence, Windsor
    8. New from the CCR
    • Nairobi: Protection Delayed, Protection denied

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  1. Delays at Nairobi Visa Post: Protection delayed is protection denied

Lisa, Jordan, momThe CCR has released a new report Nairobi: Protection Delayed, Protection denied, highlighting the extraordinarily long processing times at the Nairobi visa office.  The report focuses on cases of refugee family reunification and privately sponsored refugees.

The CCR report presents statistics showing the extent of the problem at Nairobi, absolutely and in comparison with other visa offices, including the following:

  • Half the cases of refugee dependants in Nairobi take more than 23 months (compared to 14 months globally).
  • Half the cases of privately sponsored refugees in Nairobi take more than 42 months (compared to 19 months globally).

The report also profiles some of the people affected by the long delays.

  • Amina and her three children, Ethiopian refugees, have been waiting for over 5 years for processing of their private sponsorship application.  In the meantime, Amina’s husband died of malaria in Kakuma refugee camp.
  • Sylvie and her husband, both refugees in Canada, are still waiting for reunification with their children left behind in Congo.  It is over 3 years since they were informed that the children’s files would be processed in Nairobi.

For the press release announcing the report, see: http://ccrweb.ca/en/bulletin/09/11/02

To read the complete report Nairobi: Protection delayed, protection denied, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/Nairobireport.pdf

 

  1. Concerns for protection for Sri Lankans who arrived by boat

On 22 October 2009, the CCR and Amnesty International Canada sent a letter of concern to the Ministers of Citizenship and Immigration and Public Safety.  According to media reports, the Canadian government had been in touch with Sri Lankan authorities regarding the identities of the 76 men who arrived by boat in Canada on 16 October 2009. Given that they are refugee claimants, collaboration with the government of the country from which they fled is completely inappropriate.

The letter highlighted the CCR and Amnesty’s shock in reading the name of one of the passengers on board in The National Post who was alleged to be “wanted in Sri Lanka for terrorism”. The newspaper attributed its information to “two sources familiar with the investigation”. The CCR and Amnesty have requested the Canadian government conduct internal investigations to ascertain whether this dangerous leak came from a government source, and to ensure no further personal information on any of the passengers is released to the media.

The letter also requested the government take vigorous measures to ensure that all relevant government agencies have in place policies prohibiting inappropriate communications with foreign governments about refugee claimants, and that these policies are respected.
For the full text of the joint letter, see:
http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/letterconfidentialityoct09.htm

To read related media reports, see the In the Media section of the CCR website at: http://ccrweb.ca/en/medialinks

 

  1. Refugee Appeal Division: Take Action!  Bill C-291 back in the House of Commons

Refugee Appeal DivisionGood news!  Bill C-291 on the implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division has passed a critical vote in the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration by a narrow margin of 6-5. The bill is now back in the House for third reading. 
 
Take Action!  Call, meet with or write your local Member of Parliament (MP) and encourage her or him to vote in favour of Bill C-291 at third reading in the House of Commons.  Bill C-291, calls for the implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division as provided for the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

You can include this one-pager with your letter or give it to your MP if you meet: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/RADonepager2009.pdf.

For a guide on how to approach a meeting with an MP, please follow these tips on how to organize a meeting on the RAD: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/meetingRADen.pdf.

For more information about the Refugee Appeal Division and why this bill is important, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/campaigns/RADaction.htm

 

  1. More calls for end to refugee transportation loans

teacher-studentMore and more groups recognize the impact that refugee transportation loans have on refugees, their families and our communities.  Here are some of the most recent voices heard calling for the elimination of transportation loans for refugees:

The Health Officers Council of BC passed a resolution at the beginning of October calling on the federal government to stop seeking repayment for refugee transportation loans.

The Winnipeg Social Planning Council released its Poverty Barometer 2009 report on 21 October 2009 calling for the federal government to eliminate the repayment of transportation loans for refugees.

Encourage individuals and organizations in your community to follow these examples.  Urge your municipal council to call on the federal government to absorb the cost of transportation loans for refugees. 

For more information on the campaign to end transportation loans and action ideas, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/transportationloans.htm

For Poverty Barometer 2009 from the Winnipeg Social Planning Council, see: http://tinyurl.com/yfoyvcg

For recent media reports on the impacts of refugee transportation loans, see:

Ottawa urged to scrap refugee loan program, CBC News (Nova Scotia), 3 November 2009, http://tinyurl.com/ycxz8mn

Helping hand costs cold cash, Winnipeg Free Press (editorial), 23 October 2009, http://tinyurl.com/yfa9dh3

Refugees, immigrants in poverty: report, Winnipeg Free Press, 22 October 2009, http://tinyurl.com/yhn3r8l

 

  1. Are you Building Welcoming Communities?  Come to the CCR Fall Consultation 3-5 December, Windsor

Building Welcoming CommunitiesFrom 3 to 5 December 2009, refugee and immigrant rights advocates from across Canada will be gathering in Windsor for the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) Fall 2009 Consultation, on the theme Building Welcoming Communities.

The Consultation is a key opportunity to explore together how to build communities across Canada that are welcoming to refugees and immigrants. Consultation participants include: refugees, immigrants, representatives of NGOs, youth advocates, government, UNHCR, academics and international guests.

Consultation discussions will address issues that challenge refugees, immigrants, advocates and community workers.  In addition to larger plenary sessions, workshops and working sessions will produce strategies for further collaboration and specific actions. 

Topics addressed at this consultation include:

  • Providing services and protection to trafficked persons (in conjunction with the national forum on trafficked persons, see below)
  • Exploring border issues affecting refugee claimants
  • Examining the impacts of two-tier citizenship
  • Improving access to post-secondary education for newcomer youth
  • Using new media for effective networking and communication in local communities
  • Working towards anti-oppression in working with newcomers
  • Respecting the rights of migrant workers

...and many more

Information about the consultation and online registration forms are now available at: www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm  Register before 13 November to take advantage of the reduced fees!

 

  1. Participate in the National Forum: Improving Services and Protection for Trafficked Persons, 2-3 December, Windsor

protectionHeld in conjunction with the CCR Fall Consultation, this two-day forum will bring together organizations and representatives from across Canada to exchange information and strategies on protection and services to trafficked persons.  Government and other interested stakeholders are also invited to participate in these meetings.

For more information and to register, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/traffickingforum.htm

For the proposed agenda of the Forum, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/traffickingforumagenda.htm

 

  1. Faces of the CCR: Saundra Rennie, Melissa Ventura and Sandhya Shanker, New Canadians Centre of Excellence, Windsor

Saundra, Melissa, SandhyaSaundra Rennie, Melissa Ventura and Sandhya Shanker of Windsor’s New Canadians’ Centre of Excellence Inc. are  involved in the Local Organizing Committee for the forthcoming Fall Consultation in Windsor this December. The NCCE Inc. is devoted to equality, rights and protection of immigrants and refugees, and fulfill its mandate by providing services which include language training, job search workshops, and settlement services, to name a few.

Saundra, Melissa and Sandhya feel “it is our responsibility to align ourselves with those who share the same beliefs and values for refugees and immigrants.” Working on the Fall Consultation with the CCR has been an opportunity to communicate and connect with other organizations in the Windsor area, which has an active refugee and immigrant rights community.

They are looking forward to learning more about “the work that is involved in refugee and immigrant protection when it comes to their rights.”  For NCCE staff, “it is motivating to know that this is not only being done through the CCR and other related parties on a national scale, but also on a global one.” After the Consultation, the NCCE foresees focusing on local issues facing Windsor as a border city, issues affecting temporary migrant workers,  issues surrounding the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement and following up on resolutions adopted at the Consultation.  The NCCE also hopes that the local committee will continue to meet after the Consultation, as a way to support organizations and individuals who directly serve refugees and immigrants locally.

Preparing for the Fall Consultation has motivated Saundra, Melissa, Sandhya and others at the NCCE to continue advocating for refugees and immigrants. They view the CCR as “a strong vehicle that reflects the voice for those who would not otherwise have one,” and in organizing the Consultation, Saundra, Melissa and Sandhya have had the chance to broaden their knowledge and empower others as well as themselves.

For more information about the CCR Consultation Building Welcoming Communities, 3-5 December in Windsor Ontario and to register, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm

For more information about the New Canadians’ Centre for Excellence Inc., check out their website at: http://www.ncce1.org/

 

  1. New from the CCR